The Earl of Donoughmore
rose, in pursuance of the notice he had given, to call their lordships' attention to the petitions on the table, praying for relief to the Roman Catholics. In furtherance of the object he had in view, he felt it to be his duty to submit to their lordships a resolution, to the effect that this House do resolve itself into a committee to consider the state of the laws which inflict civil disabilities on account of religious opinions, particularly in so far as those laws deprive his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects of the exercise of their civil rights; and in how far it may be expedient to alter or modify the same. Such was the nature of the motion with which he intended to conclude, and he believed no question of greater importance in all its relations could be brought under the consideration of parliament. The importance of the subject could not fail to be felt by their lordships, when they recollected the great proportion of his majesty's subjects affected by the severe and, as he must contend, illiberal exclusions which it was his object to remove. The law as it now stood, disqualified and rendered incapable of sitting in parliament and holding various civil and military situations, no less than four-fifths of the population of the country from which most of the petitions now on the table relative to this question 387 had come, and if to that portion were added the Roman Catholics of England and Scotland, it would be found that the exclusion applied, to at least one-fourth of the population of the whole united kingdom. This was a state of things which appeared at the first sight strongly marked with severity and injustice: for the men composing this great proportion of their lordships fellow subjects' were disqualified, for no other apparent reason, than a conscientious adherence to the principles of the religion in which they had been educated. The old unreasonable grounds on which their exclusion was defended had gradually been abandoned. The opinions which had been attributed to them had been, both in and out of that House, acknowledged to be unfounded; and yet laws enacted on these erroneous views were still maintained in force. It had been asserted, that Roman Catholics held the doctrine, that engagements made with professing other religions were not binding on themselves, and that they would make use of any power which they might obtain to destroy our establishments in church and state. If it were possible that such absurd charges had ever been believed, the whole experience of the last century, and especially that of the last forty years, was sufficient to prove its falsehood. The legislature had, to a certain extent, already mitigated the laws which operated against them; and in proportion as the disabilities were removed, their loyalty and attachment to the constitution had been more and more strongly evinced. What objection could row be made to the total repeal of these disqualifications? No proof had ever existed of the charges which had been made against the Catholics, and nobody now believed them. As a proof of the change of opinion on this subject, he would refer to what had passed in another place, where a right honourable gentleman, distinguished for his opposition to the claims of the Catholics, had distinctly disavowed the absurd charges made against them. The noble lord opposite had also abandoned most of his objections to granting relief to the Catholics, and now insisted only on one or two points as affording ground for opposition to the relief demanded. These objections were, the foreign jurisdiction asserted to be acknowledged by the Catholics, and a persuasion of the impolicy of admitting Roman Catholics to participate fully in a 388 Protestant constitution. He had no doubt that, like all other unfounded apprehensions, these would soon be removed. As to the only, important point, the foreign, supremacy, it was altogether spiritual, and the Roman Catholics acknowledged none that in any way interfered with their allegiance. On this point they were willing to give the most complete pledges and securities; and if that were done, surely no objection could exist in the mind of the noble earl to the repeal of the disqualifying statutes—laws which, so far from affording any advantage to the state, tended only to its injury, by exasperating the feelings of those against whom they were directed. If the House went into the committee, the ulterior measures which he should propose would be chiefly some alteration in the oaths required to be taken by members of parliament and persons holding appointments under the government. In the first place, he would propose the repeal or modification of the declaration oath, a great part of which amounted merely to a denial of doctrines held by those who believed them to be the great truths of the Christian religion, and had no reference whatever to the political question on which disqualifying statutes had been founded. His next object would be to obtain the repeal of the oath of abjuration. What reason there could be for maintaining on the statute book an oath against the claims of a non-existing family, except to exhibit to the world an absurdity, he did not know. The oath of supremacy he thought might remain. After all that had passed, and the great light which had recently been thrown on the subject, he trusted that the relief asked by the Roman Catholics would be granted. Through the whole of his parliamentary life he had earnestly and sincerely supported their claims. It would be difficult for him to offer any new arguments, in their support; but he thought it would be, still more difficult to maintain the converse of the problem, and show any good reason for their exclusion from the benefits of the free constitution which their fellow subjects have the happiness to enjoy. He should therefore refrain from troubling their lordships farther. Were it necessary, which it certainly was not, he was not well enough to enter into all the details which this important question presented, and should consequently, conclude by moving the resolution stated in the commencement of his speech.
The Bishop of Worcester
said, he could not give his concurrence to the prayer of the petitions on which the noble earl had founded his motion. He was surprised at the strange notions which prevailed on this subject; and that it should be supposed by any persons, that a professor of the doctrines of the church of England must necessarily be hostile to the granting the claims of the Catholics, merely on the ground of their religious opinions. Nothing could be more unfounded than such an idea. Their lordships would allow him to say, that whoever supposed that members of the church of England could be enemies of the Roman Catholics on such grounds, were ignorant of the faith professed by that church. It did not follow, however, that the Roman Catholics should be admitted to all the privileges they claimed. Whatever unnecessary severity existed in the laws it was proper to remove, and such had been the course pursued by the legislature. Much had, within the last two years, been done in this respect. An act had passed which admitted Roman Catholics to the military and naval service, but he could not think it adviseable that they should be appointed to the highest commands, or permitted to fill the highest offices in the state. The laws against them had hitherto been administered tenderly and sparingly. Those which still existed would doubtless continue to be so administered, unless some event should occur to render their strict enforcement necessary; and on that ground it would be imprudent to repeal them. It was said, that the motives which induced the Roman Catholics to refuse taking the oaths ought to be treated with candour. It was doubtless their lordships' duty so to do; but it was also their duty to guard against the influence of a captivating expression, and to take care, in following the advice to exercise candour to one party, that they did not injure another. Could he persuade himself that no injury would accrue to the constitution from their admission to all the privileges of the constitution, most readily would he accede to their claims. To extend those privileges to all descriptions of persons was doubtless what would be the first feeling of their lordships on the proposition of such a question; but feeling was not the only rule by which they were to be guided in legislating. In former discussions on this question much stress had been laid on authorities, and 390 the name of Locke had been referred to on both sides; but before his principles on civil rights could be appealed to as authority, their lordships ought to consider what he had stated in his first letter on toleration, part of which had been remarked upon by a dignitary of the church. That writer had said, that the Roman Catholics had no right to indulgence from others, as they granted no indulgence themselves. This he admitted, was an indefensible proposition, but the other part of the argument, that those who hold offices under the government should be of the religion of the state, was in his opinion well founded. The reason for adhering to this principle in this country was particularly forcible, as the Protestant religion was so intimately woven with the whole system of the constitution. Under such a constitution, it would be dangerous to admit to offices of high trust persons indifferent to the religion of the state, and still more dangerous so to admit the enemies of that religion. He was aware that many noble lords entertained a view of the subject very different from his. They placed full confidence in declarations of attachment to the constitution, and had no apprehension of any danger from the admission of Roman Catholics to every privilege. He was disposed to give full credit to the sincerity of those who made the declarations in question, but he still thought that general declarations were to be received with caution. A foreign authority was acknowledged by the Roman Catholics, and though it was asserted that that acknowledgment had no political character, it was still a ground of suspicion; for it was obviously extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate entirely temporal from spiritual authority. The temporal authority of the pope was disclaimed, but he doubted how far this could be acted on by those who so fully acknowledged his spiritual power. It appeared to him, that by concession the danger of the establishment would be increased ten-fold. The next thing looked to in Ireland would be the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion; and the irritation which prevailed, instead of being allayed would be increased; for a desirable object was always pursued with passion and eagerness in proportion as its attainment appeared near. In that country, where, according to the noble lord's statement, the great majority of the population was not of the religion of the state, a government of the 391 most mild and just character prevailed. The noble earl at the head of that government was most deservedly popular, and nothing illiberal could be apprehended from him. Such was the way in which he hoped the government would always be administered; but he must protest against bringing the Roman Catholics within one single step of putting their church in the place of the establishment. They might then say to the legislature—You have given us our elective franchise, you have educated our youth, you have admitted us to civil and military offices, and to seats in parliament, but our religion is only tolerated; why is it not established? why is this last act of justice denied to us? Let it be remembered, that this is the language which might be expected to be heard from a numerous and powerful body from the great majority of the population of that country. This view of the subject presented considerations of so serious a nature as would, he trusted, induce their lordships to listen with caution to the claims which were addressed to them.
The Bishop of Norwich
said, he felt an attachment to the church and the constitution as sincere and cordial as that of his reverend friend could be, though he was so unfortunate as to differ very widely with him on the means by which security was to be given to these establishments. He would never suppose that the security of the church was to be promoted by exciting false and frivolous alarms. He was anxious to give his testimony against all attempts to raise a clamour among the ministers of the church, on the pretence that the establishment would be in danger, were the claims of one-fourth of the population of the British empire to the enjoyment of civil rights granted by parliament. That a Christian church should be endangered by an act of justice was a proposition contrary to the great maxim of the religion of Christ, namely, "Whatsoever you would that others do to you, even so do ye unto them." Amidst all the clamour which had been raised, he had heard no solid objection against the measure demanded by the Roman Catholics. The British constitution was best supported by carrying into full practice the liberality of its principles. The broader the foundation, the more secure would be the superstructure. Now, when every argument hitherto urged against the Catholic claims had been triumphantly 392 answered, their lordships were told that this acknowledgment of a foreign supremacy was an insurmountable bar to the concession demanded by the petitioners. He should not trouble their lordships by entering into any details of the construction put on the oath of supremacy by archbishop Cranmer and others. It was sufficient for him to observe, that the Catholics in general were ready to take the oath in its present form, with a slight addition, which would render it equally binding, while the change was unexceptionable. The present form of the oath declared, that the person taking it denied the right of any prince, potentate, or power, to exercise authority in this country, either ecclesiastical or civil. The addition proposed was to this effect—"in so far as the same may interfere with the allegiance due by subjects to their lawful sovereign." This he thought must prove perfectly satisfactory. At all events, things could not long go on as they were. In the present state of knowledge and of public opinion, so disgraceful an anomaly as the exclusion of four million of people from the privileges and rights of the constitution merely on account of their conscientious adherence to religious principles, could not long exist. This anomaly could the less be defended in the case of the Roman Catholics, as it exhibited towards them a cruel and unjust partiality, to which no other sect of dissenters from the established church was subject, and that, too, merely on account of the oath of supremacy, which other sects were bound in conscience to reject as well as them. There was no denial of civil privileges to the members of the church of Scotland. It was admitted on all hands, that there was not a better set of men in the British dominions than the adherents of that church, more attached to the constitution, more loyal in their principles, and more submissive in their conduct: and yet they contended, that his majesty had no authority in spititual matters, and that all spiritual authority was vested exclusively in the kirk. They maintained as a tenor of their creed, as an article of faith, that the civil magistrate never had and never could have any supremacy whatever in spiritual or ecclesiastical matters; but he would ask their lordships, were these excellent persons who composed the Scotch church less deserving of political confidence, less attached to the principles of our civil constitution, or less 393 firm in their allegiance to the king, than the members of the church of England? No; their fidelity and attachment to the house of Brunswick had been conspicuous features in their character, and their loyal conduct, joined to all the other qualities of good subjects, had gained them a safe admission to all civil employments of the state. Here, perhaps, he should be told, that although the church of Scotland did not own the king's supremacy in spiritual matters, it differed from the church of Rome in this respect, that it acknowledged no foreign jurisdiction. But even this distinction did not exist between the Roman Catholics and another sect, which, refusing, like them, to take the oath of supremacy, could not yet be excluded from the privileges which they were denied. He alluded to the Moravians, who acknowledged the authority of a foreign bishop, and who therefore presented a case in point. The venerable priest sitting at Rome did not claim a more absolute dominion over the faith of his adherents, than the Moravian bishop did over those who followed his system; yet we never thought of inquiring into the tenets of this sect for the purpose of refusing them political privileges. The progress of knowledge had been of late attended with its inseparable associate, liberality of sentiment; it had softened religious intolerance, and introduced Christian candour instead of sectarian bigotry. Its influence on the question now before the House was evident—it had removed the antiquated prejudices of rulers and people. He professed himself no advocate of indiscriminate innovation or precipitate change; but he professed himself equally hostile to that obdurate obstinacy that opposed itself to any alteration of the law, however salutary, or any accommodation of our system to times and circumstances, however necessary. In this changeable scene of human life, we could not with safety remain stationary, and ought to learn liberality from the age in which we lived. It was the duty of the House to let England cease from this day forward to be the only country in Europe where intolerance was established by law, where religious opinions excluded from civil office, where men were obliged to surrender their rights for the sake of their conscience, and where an appeal was made against equal privileges to statutes which had been occasioned by infernal inventions and plots of the demons of wickedness in 394 a superstitious age. Since that time, the; Catholics had given up the abominable, doctrines of which they were accused, and on which the laws against them were founded. Would any man in his senses now assert, that they maintained the principles which at first occasioned their exclusion from office; and if they did not, why continue the statutes that perpetuated that exclusion?
The Bishop of Peterborough
said:—My lords; if the present question were a question of religious liberty, it should have my cordial support. But the petitioners who are the objects of the present motion, enjoy already the same freedom of religious worship, the same freedom in the propagation of religious opinions, which is enjoyed by the members of the establishment themselves. We cannot have a more convincing proof than in the lectures which are given and published by the college of Maynooth.—It is the removal of civil disabilities, it is an extension of civil power, which is now in contemplation, as appears from the general tenor of the petitions which have been laid on your lordships' table. But if the religion of the petitioners is deemed an obstacle to their acquisition of this civil power, are they not made to suffer on account of their religion? And if men are made to suffer merely on account of their religion, is it not an act of intolerance unworthy of the present age?—My lords, I should be very sorry to plead the cause of intolerance, which I think highly reprehensible, from whatever quarter it proceeds. But there is really no intolerance in opposing the claims which are now advanced. It is not merely on account of any difference in abstract opinions between the petitioners and ourselves, that we think their religion a ground of exclusion; but because opinions, abstract in themselves, are coupled with other opinions, which are not so; with opinions which affect men's political conduct. Let it be granted that men may believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, and yet bear true allegiance to his majesty king George, as well as they who reject such doctrine as superstitious. But, if they, who believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation believe also that a foreign potentate hath, or ought to have, authority, in this realm, then, I say, my lords, it is impossible that such men should bear the same allegiance to his majesty king George as they whose whole allegiance, whose al- 395 legiance, ecclesiastical as well as civil, is centered in king George alone. Now, my lords, I think no one will deny, that where allegiance to the sovereign of a country is unequal, the qualifications for admission to the government of that country must be likewise unequal. And if this reasoning be just, it follows, of necessity, that the members of the church of Rome ought not to be admitted to an equal participation in the government of this country with the members of the established church. Nor can this conclusion be weakened by the distinction which is made between allegiance to the king in things temporal, and allegiance to the pope in things spiritual. Be allegiance what it will, if that allegiance is divided between the king of the country and a foreigner, the king of the country has not the share which he ought to have, and which in this country he really has from the members of the establishment.—And, after all, the distinction is only in theory; for where religion and politics are so blended as in this country, it is impossible to preserve the distinction in practice. Having considered the question in reference to the state, I will now consider it, with the permission of your lordships, in reference to the church. For though the boon which is asked at present is a grant only of civil power, yet if the acquisition of this power shall lead to consequences injurious to the established church your lordships will surely contemplate those consequences before you resolve to grant the power which is now desired. I ask, then, whether your lordships can be sure, that when the adherents to the church of Rome are placed on a footing of equality with your lordships in the civil administration of this country, I ask whether your lordships can be sure that this equality in civil power will be the ultimatum of their desires? Does not every new acquisition become the means of acquiring more? And is it consistent with human nature to suppose, that the desire to obtain should not grow with the ability to obtain? If the petitioners then succeed in their present attempts, must not the acquisition of civil power at length terminate with an increase of ecclesiastical power? The court of Rome is no less anxious to extend its influence than it was at any former period. The order of jesuits, restored by the present pope, was not restored in vain. The extension of papal authority was the original purpose 396 for which this order was founded; and for no other purpose can this order have been restored. Nor are the Romish clergy in general deficient in ardour to second the views of their sovereign pontiff. Indeed they are led to do so, not only by inclination, but by the obligation of a solemn oath. By a decree of the council of Trent, and a bull of pope Pius 4th, no clergyman of that church can be admitted to a benefice till he has taken an oath, which contains the following words:—"Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Romanam Ecclesiam omnium Ecclesiarum matrem et magistram agnosco." They declare therefere upon oath, that the church of Rome is the mistress of all churches, consequently the mistress of the church of England. With such principles, must they not endeavour to obtain for the mistress what is now enjoyed by the servant? And is it wise, my lords, on our parts, to supply them with the means of so doing? There is indeed one portion of the united church, in which the struggle for pre-eminence must be of short duration, when the members of the church of Rome have once acquired the same political power with the members of the now established church. And what security can there be for a Protestant king, with a Papal establishment? The consequences of such a victory on the part of the Romish church, consequences which would shako the state itself to its foundation, are, indeed, too painful for description. And I trust, my lords, that it is unnecessary to make the attempt, as I am persuaded that your division on this night will entirely prevent the apprehension of them.
The Earl of Rosebery
said, that he did not rise in the vain expectation of being able to add any thing to the irresistible arguments which had so often and so ably been made use of in support of this question: but in consequence of the anxious wish of his mind to embrace the first opportunity which had ever presented itself to him, to declare publicly in parliament his entire and cordial acquiescence in the principles and object of the motion of the noble earl. He was one of those who were of opinion that this question was not of more importance to those who, from their religious tenets, were more particularly and personally implicated in it, than to the kingdom at large: since in it was involved the one, whether the whole military and civil strength of the country 397 was, or was not to be placed in a situation in which it could be called into full activity: and whether Ireland, which might be well considered as one of the most important portions of the British empire, was to be ameliorated with the rapidity, and to the degree to which nature, and the British constitution, would advance her: or whether her progress in improvement was to be retarded, or rather arrested by religious disabilities and distinctions, which created disunion, stifled all honourable ambition among those affected by them, and could not, according to the best view he could give to this subject, be the means of strengthening any national establishment: unless it were meant to aver, what his attachment to the church establishments of this country forbad him to think, that they were founded in such weakness as to require to be propped by artificial and unnatural supports. But he believed that an abandonment of this cruel and illiberal policy would produce a very different result from what was feared—that the church, instead of being endangered, would be additionally secured; that she would draw within her bosom many who would always remain inimical to her under the present system: because that system, though persecution might be too strong a term to employ for it, occasioned similar, if not such detrimental effects; it had a direct tendency to keep alive the acrimonious hostility, if it did not augment the actual numbers of those who belonged to a different communion. Never did he think was there a moment so well fitted as the present for undertaking the accomplishment of this great work. If during the war, the policy of it was more apparent and pressing; if the argument then was, that the situation of the country imperiously demanded that parliament should take a step by which the two-fold object would be gained of converting from disaffection to loyalty those whom these religious distinctions rendered inimical to the government, and of drawing from the very sources of discontent the means of adding fresh strength to the military and naval force of the country; if these were truths to which he gave his fullest assent, then he would urge their lordships to do that now which would place the country, in the event of another war, in an attitude which she never could before present to Europe. Some time must always elapse before the benefit to be derived from such a measure could be fully reaped. We 398 were now in a state of profound peace, a period most favourable for the development of all the advantages likely to grow out of this measure; and when unhappily we found ourselves again engaged in hostilities, the complete effect would be seen by the government, and the army being exclusively engaged in their attention against the foreign enemy: instead of being obliged to watch over a part of our own population, who are dissevered in their affections from their country by penal statutes which belonged to a particular occasion, and were only adapted to the peculiar circumstances which gave birth to them. These being changed, he had no hesitation in saying, that he would grant to the Catholics all that a liberal, an enlightened, and wise policy would be disposed to give not so much considering what they demanded, as what it would be right, upon the basis of such principles, for parliament to bestow; and he thought that this boon might be so fenced by provisions, as not only to deprive it of all real danger, but to take away all apprehension from the most timid. He did not mean to enter farther into arguments which had, so frequently, and in a manner much more forcibly than he could employ them, been urged in favour of the motion. But, feeling as he did as to it, he could not refrain from throwing out the observations he had taken the liberty to make in favour of a question which he should never cease to think one of the most important that could be brought before their lordships' consideration—less pressing, indeed, as it related to ourselves in this season of peace, though not less necessary as an act of justice towards those who are to be relieved by the measure: but looking to a state of war, one of the greatest moment to the best interests, and to the solid strength of the kingdom.
Lord De Dunstanville
said:—My lords; as I mean to vote against the question now under the consideration of the House, having indeed always voted against questions of a similar nature, I should not have troubled your lordships with a single word on the present occasion, if I did not think there was a material change of circumstances since I last addressed the House: such a change as to induce me to conceive, that it may be proper to grant farther concessions to the Catholics, though, for the reasons which I shall concisely give, I. do not think these conces- 399 sions can with prudence be made at present. Important events have happened, as I conceive, my lords, since I last addressed your lordships, all of which tend to facilitate (I hope, at no distant period), the grant to the Catholics of all which they can reasonably ask. At the period alluded to, the pope was a prisoner to the person who then governed France, and indeed controlled the whole continent of Europe: it was reasonable therefore to suppose, that the venerable pontiff must have been at that time unable to express his own free and unbiassed opinion; that circumstance furnished therefore in my mind a decisive reason for refusing to concur with the motion which was then made for farther concessions to the Catholics. The pontiff is now returned to his territorial possessions, and has the free and unbiassed use of all his spiritual functions: the gigantic power by whom he was enslaved is, thank God, deprived of all his possessions, and unable to disturb the peace of mankind. But this, my lords, is not the only change which has taken place. I can venture to assert, that there is not any reason to apprehend that the pope or court of Rome have any wish to encourage the Catholics to interfere with the established church of these kingdoms: I am well aware, my lords, that I may be told that it is not safe to trust to the apparent disposition of any individual, or to the views of those persons by whom it is likely he would be advised; that his successor or successors may hold very different sentiments from those which are professed by the present pontiff: but though I think, my lords, that those sentiments by which I believe him to be influenced are likely, for various reasons, to continue, I by no means depend entirely on them. There is another and a more substantial guarantee against any improper exertion of papal power. The pope has, by no means, that influence and authority over those of his communion which many in this country suppose he possesses; and of this, my lords, I wish to produce two recent instances. I think it is about five years since that Cardinal Quarantotti, at that time holding the entire delegated authority of the sovereign pontiff, addressed a letter to the vicar apostolic of the London district, approving the veto: what was the conduct of the Irish Catholics on that occasion? At first they pretended that the letter was forged, and, when they could no longer doubt of 400 its authenticity, they treated it with scorn and contempt. The other circumstance to which I call the attention of your lordships happened when I was at Rome, about two years since: a Franciscan friar, of the name of Hayes, was then there as the acknowledged agent of the Irish Catholic board. This man thought proper to offer the most gross personal insult to the pope in his own palace; the insult was of such a nature that I will venture to say it would have been punished by any temporal prince possessed of absolute power with the utmost severity; and what, my lords, was the punishment of this man? He was only banished from the papal dominions, and even the decree of banishment did not take place till the friar had boasted in almost every coffee-house in Rome of the insults which he had offered to the venerable person who was the head of his church, and the temporal sovereign of the country. Slight though the punishment was, my lords, and wholly inadequate to the offence, a clamour was immediately raised amongst the Catholics of Ireland, and friar Hayes was represented by them as a persecuted and much injured man. I ask your lordships, then, what fear there can be of the authority of the pope, when we find that the Irish Catholics refuse to obey his orders upon a subject purely spiritual, when they are contrary to their own preconceived prejudices, and when they consider a person as persecuted who is banished from the papal dominions for offering the grossest insult to the head of their church in his own palace? My lords, I think that farther concessions to the Catholics may be safely made at no very distant period, for of the power of the pope, or of his wish to exert it, I have no fear. I have the fullest reliance too on the good faith of the Catholics in any oaths which they consent to take; and I do not believe that they entertain the most distant idea that any power upon earth can absolve them from oaths which they have taken voluntarily. The Catholics are men like ourselves, my lords; many of them are possessed of the purest principles of morality, endowed with enlightened minds cultivated by education: and can your lordships for a moment suppose that such men as I have described can doubt that an oath is binding, or that they can entertain the absurd and impious idea that they may be absolved by any one from such an oath? But, my lords, if we could suppose 401 that the Catholics are so little scrupulous respecting oaths, how does it happen that they are so very reluctant to take those oaths which have been imposed on them by the legislature? If they believed in the dispensing power, they would take every oath which was required of them, and would laugh you to scorn for trusting in men possessed of such a lax morality: in short, my lords, if Catholics did entertain such opinions as are ascribed to them, you should not only refuse them farther indulgences, but you should drive them from society. I know, my lords, that it is said by some, that because Catholics believe in many absurdities they may also believe in the dispensing power; "but I need not tell your lordships, that much which the established church think to be absurdities, the Catholics consider as high mysteries. Let us also recollect that the established church professes its belief in many mysteries in common with the Catholics, such as the incarnation and the Trinity, and that these mysteries are treated with as much ridicule by deists and other infidels, as it is possible for the most rigid Protestant to apply to those mysteries of the Catholic church which are peculiar to itself. It does not by any means follow, that because men believe in some things above or even contrary to reason, that they should regard lightly that bond which unites them to the society to which they belong.
Government, my lords, seem to entertain an opinion that farther concessions must be made, for about two years since they made a beginning; I need scarcely say that I allude to the bill brought into parliament in 1817, allowing officers to enter the army and navy without taking previous oaths; this bill appears to me, I confess, to be nearly the same as that which was proposed by the late ministers in 1807, and which occasioned their fall from power; I am willing to acknowledge, however, that a measure might be very desirable at one period which might be wholly improper at another. But be that as it may, the bills appear to me to be nearly the same, though the noble lord at the head of his majesty's government has endeavoured, I think unsuccessfully, to make a distinction between them: he says that the bill of 1817 only abrogates previous oaths, but leaves the test act as it was: but your lordships well know that a bill of indemnity has annually passed for more than fifty years, so that 402 in fact the test act is virtually repealed; and he must be a bold man in my opinion, my lords, who should venture to oppose the annual indemnity bill. But let us suppose for a moment, that at some future time, the test act should be again in full force; should we not in that case have done an act of gross injustice to those gallant men, whom we had enticed into the service, by telling them they should not be called on to take previous oaths, if after they had spilt their blood in the service of their country—after they had borne the heat and fatigue of the day, and had passed the subordinate ranks, we should turn round on them and say, you must now take oaths contrary to your religious scruples, or else you must quit the service—at a time, perhaps, when they had reached the highest stations, and when it was too late for them to enter into any other profession.
We have, however, now, my lords, admitted Catholics into the army and navy, and, I hope, we shall never be deprived of their services; much, therefore, has been effected, but much more remains to be done. I confess, I can see no reasonable objection (when religious prejudices are somewhat abated) to the admission of the Catholics into the two Houses of parliament, into which we now admit without scruple all sects of Protestant Dissenters, Deists, and every description of infidels. What danger, my lords, is likely to arise from Catholics sitting in parliament?—Your lordships all know, that from the year 1558 (the commencement of the reign of queen Elizabeth, when the Reformation may be said to have been completely established) till the test act was passed, Catholics sat and voted in parliament. What danger arose there from? During that period, much of that bloody code, which all now unite in reprobating, became the law of the land, without any material objection on the part of the Catholics, notwithstanding those who professed the Catholic religion were then very numerous, and were even, perhaps, at the commencement of that period, the majority. Notwithstanding the famous or rather infamous bull of Pius 5th, in 1570, dethroning queen Elizabeth, and declaring her subjects absolved from their allegiance, the body of the Catholics remained eminently loyal: the bull of Pius 5th, my lords, was confirmed and enforced by another bull of Sextus 5th, at a most critical period, the 403 sailing of the Spanish Armada, for the avowed purpose of conquering England; what was the conduct of the great body of the Catholics on that occasion?—They did not content themselves with passive loyalty only, but they distinguished themselves both in the army and navy, in defence of their country, with the same zeal and activity as their Protestant fellow subjects. It is difficult fully to appreciate their merit in the times we live in. At the period of the Reformation, many zealous Protestants really believed the pope to be antichrist; we must not be surprised, therefore, that the Catholics of those days, in that spirit of opposition natural to contending sects, should be inclined to look at the head of their church with something of reverential awe; yet, even with such feeling, they disowned the authority of the pope to absolve them from their allegiance; they resisted and conquered in common with their Protestant brethren that powerful armada, which approached our shores under a banner blessed and consecrated by the head of the Catholic church. During the period of which I have spoken, my lords, it will be found, that there were twenty or thirty Catholic peers in this House, and probably a considerable number of Catholic commoners in the other. Such was the conduct of the great body of the English Catholics during the reign of queen Elizabeth, a reign certainly not very favourable to persons of that persuasion. It is true, that some bigoted Catholics suffered during her reign, and justly suffered, for asserting the authority of the pope, and for rebellion against the queen; but, I still contend, that the great mass was loyal, notwithstanding the pains and penalties to which they were liable merely for professing the religion of their ancestors.
At the commencement of the reign of James the first, your lordships well know a horrid conspiracy, commonly called the gunpowder plot, was discovered. The conspirators were, it is true, Catholics, but were in number never more than eighty. Lord Monteagle, a peer of that persuasion, received a letter written in mysterious terms, informing him that God and man had concurred; and that the parliament should receive a terrible blow, without knowing who hurted them; the letter therefore advises lord Monteagle not to attend parliament. What then did the noble peer do, toy lords, on receipt 404 of this extraordinary letter? He did as any other loyal person would have done in similar circumstances; he laid it before lord Salisbury, the secretary of state, and was therefore probably the primary cause that this horrid plot did not take effect. If it had succeeded, I beg your lordships to recollect, that at least twenty if not thirty Catholic peers, and many commoners, must most probably have perished: for it does not appear that information was given to any of them of this horrible conspiracy, except to lord Monteagle.
It is possible, my lords, that the Protestant dissenters of the present day have no designs against the established church, though we all know, that very indiscreet expressions of hostility against the establishment have been made by eminent men amongst them, at no distant period. But whatever their present intentions may be, we know from history, that the protestant dissenters, when they had power, actually effected the destruction of the church; and yet we admit the dissenters into parliament, and we refuse that privilege to Catholics, whom we only suspect to have the wish to do that which the Protestant dissenters once effected. But though I think, my lords, that the time must soon arrive, when it will be proper to grant farther concessions to the Catholics, I do not think the time is yet come; there is too much asperity, and I may add, too much bigotry on both sides; I believe, that a great majority of the English, and even of the Irish Protestants are now hostile to farther concessions; and I do not think that the Catholics are disposed to receive with pleasure and gratitude such indulgences as might be consistent with the safety of the established church. A measure, therefore, cannot in my opinion be desirable which must give dissatisfaction and disgust to both parties.
I am at a loss to conceive, my lords, why the Catholics of England and Ireland should object to give a negative on the appointment of bishops, to the illustrious person who has the executive government of the united kingdom, when the same privilege is cheerfully granted to every other non-Catholic sovereign in Europe. The fact, however, is so; and I was myself told at Rome, two years since, by the agent to whom I have before alluded, that the Irish Catholics would choose to remain in their present situations, in preference 405 to receiving concessions clogged with any conditions whatever. As an additional proof that the Catholics are not now disposed to receive with gratitude what this House and the country might be inclined to give, I venture to state to your lordships the opinion of Dr. Milner of the bill of 1813. I take this opinion from the orthodox journal of March last, in which the doctor speaks of that measure in the most opprobrious terms; he calls it "that most infamous bill, the like of which was never devised by Cecil, or Shaftsbury, or Robespierre himself; and which men calling themselves whigs and patriots (non meus hic sermo), and friends to the Catholics, hurried through the House for fear of its being sifted." He goes on to say, "this bill was contrived with a heart and malice, which none but the spirits of wickedness in high places, mentioned by St. Paul, could have suggested." He adds, "a feed and corrupt prelacy was first to be established; through them the priesthood was to be overawed and bribed; a thousand pounds being provided in each island for this purpose." I need not trouble your lordships with much observation on this intemperate production: I must state, however, that the doctor seems to have a very bad opinion of the virtue and integrity of the Catholic priesthood, when he supposes, that one thousand pounds distributed in each island might induce them to forget their duty to themselves and to their flocks; such an opinion is as absurd in itself, as it is calumnious to those who are the subjects of his libel. I am well aware, my lords, that it may be said, that Dr. Milner is an individual, and that the Catholics as a body are not answerable for what he says. That is certainly true; but Dr. Milner is not an ordinary man; he is known to have considerable influence over a large number of Catholics: he exercises episcopal functions in fifteen English counties; and he professes to be the agent of the whole Irish Catholic hierarchy.
Under these circumstances, my lords, I do not think we can be expected to grant farther indulgences to all the Catholics at present; but I think that we are imperiously called on to grant to the English Catholics all which the Irish of that persuasion received some time since. A more peaceable, a more loyal, or a more enlightened body of men does not exist; and it seems to me the height of cruelty to refuse those favours to that well-dis- 406 posed class of our fellow subjects, which we have given, I fear, in some degree, to the clamour of those more perturbed spirits of the same persuasion in the sister island. Before I conclude, I must say, my lords, that I am well aware that I may be accused of a change of opinion on the great question now under consideration; but I think that the change of circumstances subsequent to the period when I last addressed your lordships (nine years since), fully justifies the opinion I now maintain. I never shall, my lords, be ashamed of a change founded on conviction, nor shall I be afraid to avow it either in this place, or before the whole world.
The Lord Chancellor
thought that in the present question, the real point at issue was, not what would satisfy the Catholic alone, but what would or ought to satisfy the Protestant.—The noble earl who made this motion had not come forward with any specific proposition. If the noble earl would tell them what plan he intended to propose in the committee, and what defences he intended to erect for the security of the constitution, in the place of those which he was endeavouring to throw down, he for one should have no objection to grant the noble lord the committee which he required. Surely the noble earl ought, in the first instance, to say what course he meant to take in the committee. Perhaps in making this particular call for the measures which the noble earl contemplated, he exposed himself to the imputation of the cavilling precision of a lawyer. But, speaking with the prejudice of an English lawyer, loving the constitution upon principles of law, and yet at the same time being as warm a friend to toleration as any man in the House, he would ask, what security by oath could the Catholics give, which could reconcile the king's supremacy in things temporal, with the pope's supremacy in things ecclesiastical? He thought that they could give none; and, entertaining such sentiments, he felt it his duty to call upon their lordships to consider, what plan there was that parliament could adopt consistently with the safety of the constitution, out of all the plans which had been proposed to their notice since the commencement of these discussions. To him it appeared that none of them were practicable; because, if we were to believe the recorded history of the country, from the years 1660 to 1688, it would 407 be seen how systematically the Roman Catholics pursued the accomplishment of their own objects, and the destruction of; the national church, through every obstacle and every difficulty. There might be some individuals who supposed that the tenets which the Catholics held at that time were not the tenets which they hold at present, and who, under that supposition, deemed the continuance of the disqualifications imposed upon them as one of the most scandalous impositions that ever was inflicted on man; but with those individuals he could by no means agree, inasmuch as there was no proof, either direct or indirect, of any change having occurred in the religious principles of the Roman Catholics. If the House looked to the sentiments which were avowed and expressed by the Catholic church during the whole reign of Charles 2nd; if it looked to the hostile spirit in which it assailed the national church for some years previous to the Revolution of 1688, it would see the necessity of the present disqualifications, and how strongly that necessity was impressed on the mind of the whole nation. At the latter of the two periods to which he alluded, a solemn compact was made between the king and people to support the Protestant ascendency—a compact which at the same time that it acknowledged that no man could be prosecuted on account of his religious opinions, did not secure him from pains and penalties when his religious opinions had an effect upon his political conduct. It was then resolved that this country should have a Protestant king, a Protestant parliament, and a Protestant government. Such was the great principle parliament ought always to have in view, holding in due reverence that right of all men derived to them from God, that they should not be persecuted for religious opinions. When religious opinions were attended with political effects injurious to the society to which their professors belonged, that society had a right to exclude them from offices of trust and emolument. Under a conviction of the absolute necessity of securing a Protestant establishment to these kingdoms in order to render them free and happy, their lordships ancestors had enacted that no king who was either himself a Catholic, or was married to a Catholic princess, should ever sit upon the British throne. The other disqualifying laws served only as a part, of the mechanism, if he might be 408 allowed to use such an expression, of which the constitution was composed: it was thought advisable to prevent Roman Catholic advisers from surrounding the person of the king, lest they should taint his mind with their pernicious counsels; it was thought advisable to deny them seats in parliament, and places in the privy council, lest they should sow dissension in the great assemblies of the nation; and in order to provide for the fair and impartial administration of justice, it was thought advisable that the laws should not be administered by Roman Catholic chancellors and judges. Those regulations were, in his opinion, rendered absolutely necessary by the temper which the Roman Catholics had constantly evinced. Others, however, entertained a different opinion, and contended, that as Roman Catholics had sat in parliament in the 32nd year of Charles 2nd, there existed no rational objection to their sitting there at present. This was not a fair way of putting the question: the question was, whether the House, considering the events which had preceded the Revolution, and those which occurred in effecting it; considering the principles which had been asserted on the union with Scotland, and which had been re-asserted on the union with Ireland; the question, he repeated it, was, whether the House would stand by that constitution, which had secured the most ample personal liberty to every individual who lived under it, or whether they would recur to that constitution under which their ancestors had lived previous to those disqualifications being enacted. Their lordships lived in times in which nothing surprised him. He should not be surprised if a north-west passage were discovered to-morrow. He should not be surprised if the discovery of the longitude, that desideratum through so many ages, should immediately follow the former discovery; but if any thing could surprise him, he should be surprised at hearing that any man could sit in either House of parliament without taking the oaths which by law were required. Such a proposition had, however been seriously maintained; but if any of their lordships should find among the votes of that evening the vote of any person received, who had not taken the necessary oaths, they ought to impeach him to-morrow for a dereliction of duty to themselves, and to the country. Treating this subject as a lawyer, he was aware that a noble lord 409 had said, that lawyers were disqualified from being good politicians, and that politicians were often more accomplished lawyers than lawyers accomplished politicians. Be this as it might, he would still continue to lay down to politicians what he conscientiously believed to be the law of the land—which was, that every man in the state owed allegiance to the king, as the acknowledged head of the state—to speak in the old language of the law, that both "the spirituality and the laity" owed him obedience. The language of the old statutes was in a similar tone; for "the spirituality" was there subject to nobody, under God, but his majesty. Several writers upon law had maintained that when the Roman Catholic religion was the religion of the country, the country had contained men, whose valour had been the admiration of the world, whose talents had rendered us glorious in the eyes of other nations, and whose virtues would have made them an ornament to the proudest era of either Greek or Roman story: he should be the last man in the world to contradict the truth of this statement; but he could not help asking, whether these illustrious characters, with all their prowess, virtues, and talent, did or could rescue their countrymen from the slavery in which Catholicism had immersed them. The only answer which could be given to this question was, that they did not—that they could not, Lord Hale had said, that as the oath of allegiance, the act of homage, and the oath of fealty, which were all then in existence, were not sufficient to remind men of their duty to their sovereign, which they forgot in their obedience to a religion which established another superior to him, it was found requisite by exacting that paramount oath, the oath of supremacy—to give? no; but to bring back and restore to the crown that power which had always belonged to it, by calling upon every subject to disclaim all obedience to the power of the pope. It was said that this advantage was derived from the policy of Henry 8th; he denied the truth of such a position, and maintained that it was owing to the old common law of the country, which in its technical phrase, asserted the king's supremacy in temporalibus ac spiritualibus. Lord Coke, in his treatise upon the laws of Edward 3rd recited a statute in which the bishop of Norwich was enjoined (and though he was specifically named, the statute was intended for all other bishops 410 to keep in remembrance his duty, that all his authority was derived from the common law or customs of the land, or the statutes, and that he must not forget his obedience to the crown. That was the old principle of the law, and he should feel ashamed of himself if he could for one moment entertain a doubt upon its validity. God forbid that he should trench upon the right which in this free country every man had, to worship his God in his own way! but there was a wide difference between the spirit of toleration, and conferring a civil right which went to render all the laws of their ancestors nugatory. Locke whose work upon this subject was and ought always to be looked up to, exempted the Roman Catholics from his system of toleration, though, in so doing he imputed opinions to them which, it had been said, were so absurd that no man in his senses ever could be found to profess them. For his own part, he maintained that all men who did not profess sentiments hostile to the Protestant establishment ought to enjoy the utmost latitude of toleration which is consistent with the safety of the state; he therefore perfectly concurred with the distinguished writer who had said, that so long as the Roman Catholics deny the supremacy of the king so long ought the country to refuse them, emancipation. A similar opinion had been expressed by lord Hardwicke. Lord Hardwicke clearly laid down the law, that this was a Protestant constitution, and that it was protected and guarded as such by the laws of the land. Though it might appear unfit that he should enter into any religious discussions in the assembly which he was then addressing, he could not, after due reflection, consider it to be out of place to state to them very fully every ground on which the opinions he was then advocating were founded. He should therefore wish to impress upon the minds of their lordships, that it was an instructive lesson, to preserve, not only the name, but the substance of the Protestant religion. Indifference to religion generally led to great temporal evils, and, if for no other reason, at least for this, ought the Protestant religion to be supported, that it would be always a barrier against oppression, and a nursing mother to liberty and freedom. Ecclesiastical usurpation generally terminated in civil tyranny [Loud cries of hear, hear!]. He said hear too, for he wished their lordships to hear what he then said, as he should not 411 long be able to address either that or any other assembly.—He repeated, that any admission of supremacy not within the realm, but out of the realm, was ecclesiastical usurpation, and precisely that against which it was the object of the law to provide. It was that species of tyranny as well as usurpation which must terminate fatally for the liberties of the people. Such was the opinion of Locke, such of Paley. It had been said that by the act of union with Scotland, a church had been recognized and established which did not acknowledge the king as its head: he wished to know how this argument applied to the case before them: the church of Scotland, it was true, did not acknowledge the king as its superior, but then, it did not, as the Catholics did, acknowledge another potentate, and that potentate a foreigner, its superior in its stead. Supposing, however, that their lordships had on the union with Ireland planted the Roman Catholic religion there as the dominant religion, they would only have to consider for a moment to be sensible how inconsistent such a proceeding would have been with the interests of this Protestant country, and the policy on which it had usually acted. The moment they had so planted it, what would have become of their allegiance, what of the securities which their ancestors had interwoven around the pillars of their church, and what of their own solemn pledges to support the supremacy of that church? When the concessions on the propriety or impropriety of which they were then debating, were first thought of, no man ever dreamt of granting them without the consent of the Protestant part of the community, and without consulting what was due to their peace and happiness, and tranquillity. All that was great and illustrious in the country, all the venerable names on both sides of the House, had been engaged in devising securities for the Catholics, to give not to injure the establishment; and yet was there anyone of these securities that was at all satisfactory? Did he look at the Veto—he found it unsatisfactory. Did he look at the scheme of domestic nomination—that was as unsatisfactory as the former. They had the authority of Dr. Milner and of others, that such arrangements were unsatisfactory and incomplete; so that for prospective arrangements not satisfactory to the community in whose behalf they were made, the whole state of the constitution 412 must be altered, a new system of laws formed, not to satisfy one part of the community, but to alienate another.—Looking therefore, at the Veto, the system of domestic nomination, and the other plans which had been proposed to parliament, considering how unsatisfactory they all were to all parties, recollecting that it was his duty as a privy counsellor and a Protestant to express his sentiments humbly and sincerely to his sovereign (to whom, however, he owed no allegiance, if he was not a Protestant), he could not help reminding their lordships, that they would do well to sooth and not to disturb the feelings which had been already excited during the course of these discussions. He must again and again press upon their attention the insufficiency of all the securities which had been offered, it was requisite to consider it, because, as the old legal maxim said, which was no less a maxim of common life than it was of law: "What you have obtained with difficulty, you cannot retain without difficulty." The privileges which the country had won by the revolution of 1688, were not gained with ease, were not the result of a slight struggle, but were long and arduously contested. Now that they were acquired, and that the value of the acquisition was perfectly recognised, it behoved their lordships carefully to abstain from any step which could bring them into the slightest danger. He by no means forgot the divine precept alluded to by the right reverend prelate," to do to others what we would they should do unto us;" but our constitution fulfilled that precept, in holding out its advantages to all who would acknowledge the supremacy of its institutions. The constitution, which ensured privileges to us all, when it acknowledged the right of every man who acknowledged it to places of trust, power, and emolument, did not acknowledge the right of any man to them, who did not acknowledge its full authority. Before he quitted this part of the subject, he should wish their lordships to consider again the nature of the constitution: there were indeed some, who thought that a better might be devised, but it was needless for him to say that he was not of their number. It was his firm persuasion, founded on every document and record respecting the constitution which had ever come under his notice—on every act of parliament respecting the constitution—on all communications between the two Houses of 413 parliament and the sovereign respecting the constitution, that the laws which it was now sought to repeal, had always been looked upon as the best security, not only for the civil and religious liberties of the church of England, but for the civil and religious liberties of every man dissenting from that church—that the civil and religious liberties of the one were best maintained by the establishment, and the civil and religious liberties of the other by a toleration as free as the safety of the state would allow. If he were a supporter of the Catholic claims, he should be sorry to use any argument in favour of them which was derived from the numbers of those who urged them. If their numbers were great, that was no argument to concede them if they were unfounded; if their numbers were small, no argument to refuse them if they were just. But, although he entertained the greatest respect for many members of the Roman Catholic religion, he must say that it was impossible for him to know what might be the wishes or determination of the great mass of individuals of that persuasion, and that while they continued to withhold all disavowal of the tenets which they professed at the Revolution, and which were the grounds of the precautions that he had described, he could not consent even to enter into any consideration of the subject. He had looked upon this subject with all the anxiety which it demanded; and in his investigations had found that though certain canons, as adverse to the spirit of religion as they were to the temper of the times, had been renounced by individuals, they had not been renounced by the church of Rome. Our ancestors had always connected together the idea of popery and slavery, and he could not look upon them without viewing them in a similar light. He declared to their lordships, that he never would have persevered in the line of conduct which he had uniformly pursued in this subject, had he not been conscientiously convinced that he should betray his duty to his sovereign, who by law ought to be a Protestant, to the people who were Protestants, to the two Houses of Parliament who by law ought to be Protestants, were he not decidedly to oppose such motions as that made by the noble earl, unless the Catholics were, in the first instance, to declare and to prove that they had renounced those doctrines which rendered their Admission to a full participation of 414 the rights of their fellow subjects, dangerous to the tranquillity of the state. When they would renounce those principles, he should be for conceding every possible boon to them, but now he most conscientiously opposed every concession. He saw nothing to induce him to believe that the Roman Catholics were changed, and therefore never could give way to their pretensions or claims.
§ Earl Grey
, adverting to the remarks made by the noble and learned lord who had just spoken, on the mean opinion which he supposed some noble lords entertained of lawyers as politicians, while on the other hand they fancied themselves great lawyers, begged leave to disclaim having, for one, ever held such unqualified and unjust sentiments towards a learned and liberal and enlightened profession. He certainly had known lawyers, and he had seen some appearance of one of that description that night, who had had their views of the constitution so narrowed by their technical habits, that they came very disadvantageously to such a discussion as the one in which their lordships were then engaged. But this was far from being generally the case. On the contrary, it was impossible for him, in speaking on this topic, not to call to mind the character of a distinguished member of that profession, whose loss had been recently experienced by the country; a man of the best and most amiable qualities, whose knowledge of the constitution and of the law could be exceeded only by his enthusiastic love of liberty, and Ins persevering and unbounded benevolence; a man who, with some others of his profession, invariably applied his knowledge in the support of civil and religious liberty. He disclaimed, therefore, treating the profession of the law with derision. He knew that he was not competent to contend questions of law with those who had devoted their whole lives to the study of them: and least of all, was he competent to contend on such subjects with the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, whose high qualifications, and whose authority as a lawyer, he was most ready to acknowledge. But, at the same time, it was his duty, in his humble sphere, in cases in which points of law mingled with other considerations, to discuss them with such lights as he possessed, although subject to the criticism of the noble and learned lord. It was, therefore, that, with all due deference to the noble and learned 415 lord's authority, he felt it incumbent on him to contest some of the points which the noble and learned lord had endeavoured to establish in support of his opinions. On the present occasion, as on many other occasions, when this great and important subject had been agitated, the noble and learned lord had used an argument, which, if it were once admitted, put an end to the whole question. The noble and learned lord had told their lordships, that the principle of the constitution was, that it was essentially and fundamentally Protestant, and that therefore every proposition which encroached on that principle; and consequently the proposition before the House, was not only inexpedient, but inadmissible. If this were true, there was an end to the question. But he humbly contended, and he would endeavour to prove, that that was not the construction which ought to be put on what the noble lord was pleased to term the Protestant establishment. It might be a question of great nicety to determine, which were, and which were not, the essential and fundamental laws of the constitution; which were capable, and which were incapable of alteration. Into that discussion he would not then enter. But unquestionably it was fitting, when an alteration of the law was proposed, to see what tendency it might have with reference to the system of government under which we lived; to see how far it militated against the principles of our established institutions; and to oppose it in the first instance, if its character appeared to be obviously such as to affect the securities by which those institutions were surrounded. That such was the principle on which the noble and learned lord founded his arguments against his noble friend's motion, he was willing to admit; and on that principle he was ready to combat him. He (earl Grey) granted, that the constitution, as established at the Revolution, was essentially and fundamentally Protestant. He granted it—no man more willingly, no man felt more reverence and attachment for the religion which he professed, and no man would go farther than himself in making sacrifices for its support. But what was the meaning of the expression, that the constitution established at the Revolution was essentially and fundamentally Protestant? If he understood it, he took the meaning to be (and such was the definition of the noble and learned lord himself) that at 416 the Revolution, in order to secure the liberties of the people from a repetition of the attempts made upon them by a prince of the Catholic religion, it was provided that the monarch on the throne, and the members of the House of Lords and Commons, should be of the church of England, which church of England was established by law. This he understood to be the definition of the term in question;—at least he could find no other in the great charters of the constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement. Admitting that, it would become necessary to distinguish between the securities which were fundamental and essential, and those which were collateral and subordinate. Of the latter class seemed to him to be those securities which the noble and learned lord appeared to be apprehensive the motion of his noble friend would, if agreed to, have the effect of giving up. If, however, it could be shown that they were securities established, not at the Revolution, but at periods previous and subsequent to that event; if none of them were found engrafted in those acts which formed the charter of our constitution; if it could be proved that they arose from particular circumstances and the exigencies of particular times, and were no longer necessary for the support of that constitution which all allowed to be fundamentally and essentially Protestant; then the whole of the noble and learned lord's argument would fall to the ground; and it would be evident that these collateral and subsidiary securities, being no longer requisite, might be separated from the fundamental and essential securities without the least injury or danger to the constitution. The noble and learned lord said, that the constitution was fundamentally and essentially Protestant. So said, he (earl Grey), and he said also, that the constitution was fundamentally and essentially a free constitution. The one was as clear and indisputable as the other. In order to secure that freedom, our ancestors, at the Revolution, took the securities which they found already existing, and interwove them with others, in the Bill of Rights and Act of Settlement. And yet the noble and learned lord would certainly be one of the last men in that House to contend that those securities were so fundamentally and essentially connected with our freedom as to be inseparable from it, and to be insusceptible of 417 alteration. What had been the practice in that respect? The principle of the Revolution being, that the government of the country was not only Protestant but free, nothing seemed so essential to the security of that freedom as the preservation of purity in parliament. It was therefore enacted, that no person holding an office under the Crown should have a seat in either House.—Need he tell their lordships, that in a few years afterwards that provision was repealed? It had also been enacted, in order the better to insure the responsibility of government, that, in all matters treated of in the privy council, the orders issued in consequence should be signed by those members of the privy council who consented to them. That provision was repealed by the 4th of Anne. In like manner it was stated in the Declaration of Rights, and the Bill of Rights, that parliaments should be frequently held; and in a few years after the Revolution it was enacted, that the House of Commons should be triennially elected. Need he tell their lordships, that by the 1st of George the 1st that act was repealed (although one of those which, on the principle of the noble and learned lord, must be considered as a fundamental and essential security for liberty), on grounds which many at the time thought doubtful? He was of opinion, that at the time when the repeal took place, it was justified by necessity, although that necessity no longer operated for its continuance. All the securities for the freedom of the constitution, which he had mentioned, were enacted by our ancestors at the time of the Revolution, and yet they had all been fearlessly repealed. The right of petitioning was another right, firmly insisted on by our ancestors at the Revolution. But would the noble and learned lord say, that that sacred right might not be, and in fact, had not been, at different times, the subject of modification? The noble and learned lord himself had not forborne to lay his unhallowed hands on several of those safeguards which our ancestors had thought necessary for the security of the liberty of the people; and yet, forsooth, when a claim was set up for justice and equal rights on the part of a large and valuable class of his majesty's subjects, the advocates for that claim were to be "estopped" (to use a legal phrase), on the ground that the subject had been decided, and set at rest for ever by our ancestors! The noble and learned lord's argument 418 was wholly vain and nugatory, unless he could establish as a principle, that the laws which secured the liberties and privileges of the people might be tampered with and repealed at pleasure, but that whenever an extension of those liberties and privileges was proposed, the laws, the repeal of which was necessary for that extension, must be considered so sacred as to be absolutely intangible. What he asked was,—on what principle the securities in question were supposed to be necessary? The noble and learned lord had quoted lord Hardwicke, whose authority no man more highly respected than himself. He had not distinctly heard the passage quoted by the noble and learned lord, but as far as he could understand it, it seemed merely to imply, that it was our duty to maintain, the Protestant establishment, by all the securities that were necessary for that purpose. Neither lord Hardwicke's nor the noble and learned lord's authority was necessary for the maintenance of that proposition. He (earl Grey) would maintain it as conscientiously, and would go as far in its assertion as any man. The question was, whether the securities under discussion were necessary.—Were they so interwoven with the establishment, that they could not be disjoined from it without danger? That was the simple question—aye or no. He would endeavour to state the case fairly. The Protestant establishment was fixed on its present basis at the Revolution. But as he had already stated, those minor securities, those laws of disqualification and exclusion, to which the noble and learned lord thought the Catholics ought still to be subject, were not to be found in the Bill of Rights, or in the Act of Settlement, but were all enacted either anteriorly or posteriorly to the Revolution. The first of the acts to which the noble and learned lord had referred, and by which the Catholics and other dissenters from the Protestant church were affected, was, the Corporation act, passed in the first year after the Restoration. The object of that act was not the exclusion of the Catholics, who, at that period, had seats in parliament, and were favoured by the king on the throne; but the exclusion of a different description of persons, who had been supporters of Cromwell, and who had contributed to overturn the constitution. The next of those laws was the Test act, passed in the 25th of Charles 2nd. Undoubtedly that act was directed against the Catholics, 419 but chiefly against the duke of York, the presumptive heir to the Crown, and known to be of the Catholic religion. In the support of the measure against that particular and temporary danger, even Protestant dissenters concurred to their own immediate disadvantage. Then came the 30th of Charles 2nd, which was the act by which Catholics were excluded from seats in either House of parliament. The noble and learned lord had declared, that he should not be more surprised to hear of the discovery of a north-west passage or of the longitude, than he was to hear certain doctrines which had been advanced in that House. But it was with the most unaffected surprise, that he (earl Grey) had heard the noble and learned lord, a profound lawyer, deeply read in the history of his own country, assert that the act of the 30th of Charles 2nd was the result of the deliberate wisdom and prospective caution of our ancestors, exercised for the purpose of guarding the Protestant constitution from the dangers by which it was menaced. Need he trouble their lordships—was it necessary for him to remind them of the history of the act of the 30th of Charles 2nd? It was notorious that that act had its origin, and was justified, pressed and carried, in consequence of the apprehensions excited by the plots of Oates and Bedloe; in the existence of which no man at the present day believed. Under great public agitation, excited by the invention of those plots, that act which the noble and learned lord described as emanating from the deliberate wisdom and prospective caution of parliament; and as being one of the fundamental and essential securities of the Protestant constitution was passed, for the purpose of excluding one class of his majesty's subjects from the rights and privileges which they had until that period enjoyed. Such were the laws passed previous to the Revolution—all of them, as he trusted he had sufficiently shown, founded on particular circumstances which no longer existed; and the last of them, prompted by the unfounded apprehension arising from a forged plot, contrived for the diabolical purpose of operating on the fears of the nation to the prejudice of one class of the community. It was true that our ancestors in the settlement of their liberties, after the expulsion of James, retained those laws, and that they afterwards added others of a more severe nature. After the Revolution, a law was 420 passed, he believed in the 7th or 8th of William, depriving the Catholics of the right of voting at the election of members of the House of Commons. In the first of George the 1st, another act was passed disqualifying Catholics from holding offices and places of trust, civil or military. But let their lordships look at the causes which induced our ancestors at the Revolution to continue the acts of severity then in force against the Catholics, and afterwards to add others of a still harsher character. The causes were evidently these:—The king, who had been recently expelled, was a prince professing the Catholic religion. His attachment to his religion had occasioned that invasion of the rights of the people, which had ended in his expulsion. He had taken refuge with, and received the assistance of the greatest Catholic sovereign in Europe. He was supported by a number of partizans in this country, of whom, although many were not Catholics, yet the larger proportion were so. Our ancestors, wisely deviating as little as possible from the principle of hereditary succession, had established the succession in the line of the exiled monarch's daughters, the last of whom, during the period of her declining health, was suspected of cherishing a desire to restore her father. Added to that, was the belief entertained by the great men by whom the Revolution was effected, of the deceitful character of the Catholic religion, and of the abhorrent nature of these tenets, which in the present day the Catholics universally disclaimed. In all those circumstances and considerations, their lordships would see the cause of laws so contrary to the spirit which produced the Revolution. It was to charge the Revolution unjustly—to paint it in black and odious colours, to tell their lordships that exclusion was a part of the principle on which that proceeding was founded, instead of putting the exclusion on the true ground—its applicability to circumstances and necessities. He would ask their lordships, if one particle of the danger, which was the foundation of the laws that he had enumerated, now existed? There was no longer a Pretender to the throne. The family of that unhappy monarch, who paid so dearly, yet so justly, for the invasion of the rights of the people, was extinct. The laws, therefore, passed for the security of the Protestant succession were no longer requisite. If every one of them was repealed, be would 421 ask the noble and learned lord himself, whether he thought that would a single jot endanger the succession of the next heir to the throne? The necessity for those laws no longer existing, the policy which induced our ancestors to pass them, when they were necessary, could no longer be urged for their continuance; but the policy which induced our ancestors to declare that the English was a free constitution, required that freedom should be extended to the Catholics, now that no cause remained for withholding it. The history of some of the Jaws which had been passed against the Catholics, afforded the strongest evidence that they were not the result of the sound and deliberate wisdom described by the noble and learned lord.—He would not enumerate them; but he would just mention the circumstances in which one of the most severe description, passed in 1669, but since happily repealed, originated. That law prevented Catholics from taking property either by devise or purchase. It imposed severe penalties on the Catholics for several offences which it created, and even on the Catholic priesthood for celebrating mass. What did bishop Burnet say of the manner in which that law was passed? Those," he observed," who brought the bill into the House of Commons, hoped the court would oppose it; the court, however, depending on the hostility of the Lords, acceded to it.—When the projectors of the measure saw their mistake, they wished to stifle it, and they loaded it with unreasonable clauses, in the hope that the Lords would not agree to it. The bill, however, passed the Lords, without amendment, their lordships being piqued at the conduct of the Commons." So it was with the Test act; of which Mr. Burke, in his Address to his Constituents, said, "that it was loaded with a double injustice, for that both parties, like jugglers with their cups and balls, had made sport in it of the fortunes, lives, and liberties of their fellow-subjects." He mentioned those things to undeceive their lordships with respect to the character of deliberate political wisdom ascribed by the noble and learned lord to those measures. He now came to consider the character of what took place after the Revolution. The measures then adopted were suggested, first, by the supposed connexion of the Roman Catholic religion with an attachment to a family claiming the throne; secondly, by the belief that the 422 particular tenets of that religion were hostile, not only to all governments, but to all existing society, and therefore ought not to be tolerated. Those motives were no longer in being. As there was no political attachment on the part of the Catholics to dread—all jealousy and suspicion on that subject being for ever laid asleep—in justice, those laws which were applicable to a different state of things should cease also. The noble and learned lord had in the course of his argument quoted Mr. Locke. The noble and learned lord's mis-representation of the sentiments of Locke, as well as that of a right rev. prelate, had been, on a former occasion, so completely answered by a learned lord, who, in his opinion, always did the greatest honour to himself by the benevolent enthusiasm which he manifested on this subject, that he was almost afraid to make any farther remarks upon it. Yet he could not forbear from hazarding a few observations. The noble and learned lord had quoted Locke in support of his argument. He would ask the noble and learned lord, when he cited Locke in support of the principle of exclusion for the defence of our religious establishments, whether he was prepared to adopt the whole of Locke's opinions (which the noble and learned lord said he had studied with so much care in the early periods of that career, which had raised him to that elevated station for which his profound legal knowledge so eminently qualified him) on the subject of those establishments? If the noble and learned lord answered in the affirmative, he should like to appeal to the right reverend bench, so fully occupied on the present occasion, to join he feared in opposition to his noble friend's motion, whether it would concur with the noble and learned lord in that agreement? He would next ask the noble and learned lord, when he cited Locke on the subject of the exclusion of the Catholics, whether he was prepared to adopt all Locke's opinions with respect to the character of the Catholic religion? Did the noble lord believe, as Locke and Somers and all the great men of the Revolution believed at that period, that at the present day the Catholics maintained, that faith ought not to be kept with heretics—that princes excommunicated by the Pope forfeited their thrones—that the Pope had a right to discharge from their allegiance to their sovereign all adherents to the Catholic 423 religion; and that being so discharged, subjects had a right to murder their sovereign—and finally, did the noble and learned lord hold, not only that the Catholic religion ought not to be tolerated, but that the profession of it was a crime which ought to be punished? The noble and learned lord would probably reply, that he would not go such lengths—that he was not prepared to throw out such monstrous imputations on the Catholics. "But then," said the noble and learned lord, "I have not heard these doctrines disclaimed by any Catholic authority." What disclaimer would the noble and learned lord have? Had they not been disclaimed by the Catholics in the oaths which they had taken? Had they not been disclaimed in the expositions of the principal Catholic universities, and of the highest dignitaries of the Catholic church? Could the opinion expressed by Locke be maintained as an authority balancing, and more than balancing all those authorities? On the contrary, was it not evident that as Locke advocated generally the most extensive spirit of toleration, deprecating all interference between God and man, and merely stating the case of the Catholics as an exception, the grounds having disappeared on which that exception was founded, the exception must follow them; and a recurrence take place to that great original principle of toleration which would place Locke among the warmest friends of the proposed measure? It was curious to observe the spirit in which the noble and learned lord who had so deeply studied the works of Locke thought proper to expound them. In the bill of rights and the act of settlement, the noble and learned lord could find nothing favourable, although in the acts prior and subsequent to them, he had discovered much that was hostile to liberty. So in Locke the noble lord said nothing about that general principle of toleration which tended to the success of the motion before their lordships; but he emphatically dwelt on that exception to the general rule by which he hoped to establish the continuance of the exclusive system. He (earl Grey) had heard that when the question of the slave trade was discussed in parliament the noble and learned lord had found in Locke's Treatise on the Constitution of South Carolina, passages which gave a colour of expediency to that inhuman practice, which, in spite of the noble and learned lord's efforts for its pre- 424 servation, had happily been abolished. Such was the spirit in which the noble and learned lord read the works of Locke Others who read him in a different spirit found in him the friend of justice, of benevolence, of freedom. The noble and learned lord, on the contrary, read him with a very opposite purpose. He read him to endeavour to discover one speck of error, one doubtful passage, which might be turned in favour of intolerance. This the noble and learned lord seized with avidity, and applied it to purposes such as that which he at present had in view. Something remained to be said on the question of supremacy.—The noble and learned lord thought it impossible to make a distinction between spiritual and temporal supremacy. And yet in one part of his speech he himself made the distinction, when he indignantly rejected the opinion that it originated with Henry 8th, and declared that it grew out of the common law of the country. It must then have grown under a Catholic government and under Catholic ancestors. It was not true, therefore, that Catholics did not consider a distinction between their spiritual and their temporal head as compatible with their duties as good subjects. "But," said the noble and learned lord, "how are they to be separated? Why, the noble and learned lord himself had been a party to a separation of the two authorities. In the oath prescribed in 1795, a distinction was made between the civil obedience due by the Catholics to their sovereign, and the temporal obedience due to the head of their church. If the noble and learned lord's argument held on that part of the subject, it would apply with equal and greater force to the subjects of Catholic governments. In Catholic governments, the Catholic church being the established religion, and the Pope being acknowledged the head of that church, contentions were more likely to arise in the distribution of honours and emoluments. Accordingly, in former days, the Pope frequently endeavoured to extend his temporal authority in the dominion's of the emperor of Germany, the king of France and the king of England. But no one had ever heard of such effects from the divided allegiance of the subjects of those monarchs as were supposed by the noble and learned lord. Had the Pope at present, or had he for a long time, in Austria or in France, such authority derived from his spiritual power, as in the slightest degree 425 weakened the allegiance to their sovereigns of the subjects of those states? Had the subjects of this country, even at the time when the papal power was in its meridian, ever obeyed its mandates to the disregard of their duty to their sovereign? When Edward 1st was proceeding with his expedition to Scotland, he was required by the Pope to refer his cause to the see of Rome. This he disdained to do; and, when he laid before the barons of the realm, an account of the course he had pursued, they applauded his conduct, and declared that it was against the dignity of the Crown of England, against its liberty and laws, to suffer the interference of a foreign power with the internal policy of the kingdom "Neither," said they emphatically, "do we, nor will we, nor can we, nor ought we, to admit such an interference—and, if even the prince was desirous that we should bow to it, we feel, as freemen, that we ought, in that case, to oppose his will."—Here civil obedience was divided from that of spiritual—and, he conceived, that this portion of English history completely refuted the argument of the noble and learned lord. It was afterwards notified to Edward 1st that the emperor of Germany and the king of France admitted the right of the Pope to decide the point at issue on which Edward declared, that if the emperor of Germany and the king of France both took part with Rome, he would defy them, and would resort to arms against the Pope in defence of the rights of his Crown and the liberties of his people. A pretty good proof of his reliance on their preference of their temporal over their spiritual allegiance. In subsequent reigns, frequent instances occured of acts limiting the jurisdiction of the Pope, to which the people never objected. In Edward 3rd there was the statute of provisals. In Richard 2nd, statutes of premunire were enacted, tending directly to abridge the power of the Pope. In Henry 5th, Henry 6th, and in all the times down to the Reformation, examples were afforded, not only of Catholic subjects, but of prelates of that communion, assisting their sovereign in his disputes with the see of Rome. And yet, with all those facts before him, the noble and learned lord talked of the impracticability of separating the two kinds of allegiance, and maintained that a Catholic could not subscribe to the spiritual supremacy of the Pope, without 426 acknowledging his right to interfere in, civil affairs! This was an argument wholly untenable. It was contrary to all history—to all experience. It was contrary to the doctrines of the Catholics—to their professions—to their conduct. It was denied by that ardent and zealous loyalty so frequently manifested by the Catholics, and which afforded a complete and splendid refutation of all that had been urged by the noble and learned lord. In what period of our history did the noble and learned lord find the materials on which he founded his opinion? During the reigns to which he had referred, and down to the Reformation, there was no disposition to yield that kind of spiritual obedience to the Pope which the noble and learned lord thought destructive of allegiance to the king. Looking back to that period which immediately succeeded the Reformation, and when it might be supposed the Catholics were most liable to impressions of hostility to a Protestant establishment, in the reign of Elizabeth, he believed there existed no grounds for asserting that the Catholics in general were unfavourable to the title of that queen; disputed as it was by the pope, who levelled at it all the thunders of the vatican. Whatever might have been the dangers of her reign, those dangers were not aggravated by the disaffection of the Catholics; and though the most Catholic monarch of Europe was her enemy, and threatened, with what was called the invincible armada, her dominions with invasion, the Catholic proportion of her subjects were not backward in manifesting proofs of their loyalty and attachment, and in defending the kingdom against the menaces of a foreign, though a popish enemy. They attempted not to recover what they had lost, nor to revenge the injuries they had suffered—their faith and loyalty remained unshaken, and from a noble sense of duty they supported a government which they knew was inimical to them, because it was the government of their country. In the reign of Charles the 1st, when public discontent, originating in the misconduct of that monarch, had divided the kingdom—when some of the most virtuous and distinguished characters were compelled to place themselves in opposition to the Crown, yet it never was considered that the dangers of that period were increased by Catholic disloyalty. In subsequent times, when the danger arose from the 427 apprehension of a popish successor to the throne, the restrictions against that body were first carried into effect: but it would, indeed, be most unjust if those laws, which peculiar circumstances of a temporary operation alone justified, should be continued long after the cause whence they originated had ceased, and if the Revolution, founded as it was on the most enlarged principles of civil and religious freedom, should be now considered as the basis of a system of exclusion which would disgrace it. The noble and learned 'lord had next proceeded to the articles of the union with Scotland, which, he observed, stipulated that the Protestant religion was to be established as the religion of the state. This, he admitted—but when the noble and learned lord went on to cite the union with Ireland in support of his argument, he (earl Grey) confessed his astonishment.—It had been asserted by the noble and learned lord that the union between Great Britain and Ireland had for ever put an end to concessions to the Catholics. That compact had, no doubt, guaranteed the security of the Protestant church as by law established. But in what part of its articles was to be found one word of a permanent exclusion of the Roman Catholics from all the privileges of the constitution? If he had read those articles rightly, he found them to suggest a very different interpretation. To his understanding it appeared, from their very context, that the ministers of the Crown who had carried that legislative measure into effect, and who felt the pressure of temporary obstacles to their views, had, at that time, contemplated the adoption of those very measures for which, after nineteen years, his noble friend and himself were contending; measures, the expectation of which had induced the Catholics of Ireland to give their support to the extinction of that parliament whose corruptions deserved no better fate. Was there a man who heard him, particularly after what had passed, on the discussion of that question in another place, that could doubt that if the Irish parliament had continued in independent existence, the relief now sought for by the Catholics would not have been long since granted. But what said the fourth article of that union, which, according to the assertion of the noble and learned lord, had for ever set at rest the question of Catholic discussion? It provided that every peer of parliament, and every, member of the 428 House of Commons, should take certain oaths and subscribe to certain declarations, until when?—until parliament should otherwise provide. So far then from the compact of the union being on this point, as the noble and learned lord assumed, fundamental and inviolable, and debarring parliament from any examination of the policy of continuing the obnoxious restrictions in question, those restrictions were expressly held out as a subject on which future provision was likely to be made. It was well known that ministers had, in fact, farther measures in contemplation, but not being able to carry them, although they had given a pledge at the period of the union that they should be effected, they found it necessary to retire from office, when it appeared impossible for them to redeem their promise. The noble and learned lord, and the learned prelates who opposed the motion of his noble friend, justified the exclusion of the Catholics as a denial, not of toleration but of power. What was meant by that distinction? Had they not assumed that the consequence of granting those concessions would be at once to place that body in possession of all the offices of civil and military trust? When, therefore, it was argued that danger arose from such a result, it was the duty of those who advocated the claims to show that, even if danger existed, it was not likely, from the nature of circumstances, to be so formidable as to justify the continuance of a system of exclusion from which much greater dangers were to be apprehended. In that view of the question, he contended, that under the most favourable circumstances to the Catholics, few of that persuasion could obtain such offices. Supposing a king of the country so insensible to his duties to his country—forgetful of his attachment to the constitution and the Protestant succession, as to dispense all his favours on the Catholics, he still could only do so to a very limited amount. Before then, we could suppose the existence of such an excess of Catholics as would be hostile to the security of the Protestant establishment, we must assume the concurrence of three circumstances most unlikely, namely, such an increase of numbers in the Catholics, compared with the Protestants, as was not to be calculated on—a Protestant king exclusively attached to the Catholics; and that king free from the control of a Protestant parliament. Three 429 more untenable propositions could not well be imagined. It was not, however, just to say that power was the object of the Catholics. What they sought was eligibility to offices of civil trust. That eligibility was a civil right, of which no subject should be debarred, without showing that a great danger was likely to accrue to the state from his enjoyment of it. To deprive him, on grounds short of public danger, of that eligibility, which was the distinction of a free government, and more emphatically of the English government, was to do him a great injustice. It must, like every other privilege, be subservient to the general interests of the state, to be regulated and restrained by a paramount necessity; but no man could contend, that the capacity of rising to the highest office of the state, which belonged to the humblest man in the kingdom, as well as to the proudest of their lordships, was not a capacity of great and enviable importance, and of which no class of the subjects of the realm should be deprived, but on the clearest proofs of danger to the public safety from the possession. But reverting to the question of an extension of power to the Catholics, that had been given them already. Power had been conferred on them when they obtained the elective franchise—when they were enabled to enjoy property—to embark in all the successful pursuits of trade and commerce—when they were allowed to employ their talents in war, and to extend the influence which all those sources of power could not fail to produce. But having given them that power, why stop now on a principle of exclusion; having given the Catholics all those efficient means of influence, why convert them into a separate class, likely to view with jealousy and alienation that constitution, from which they were excluded? For his part, he never could reflect on such inconsistency, without being struck with its impolicy and danger. Instead of upholding a community of interests, and binding the people of the empire in the bonds of conciliation, the effect of these restrictions was, to excite divisions and irritation, sure to be more inveterate when the public exigency should require the unanimous co-operation of every description of the people; and yet that was the system to which the noble and learned lord looked as the main and essential security of the Protestant establishment. There remained another part of the subject, on which 430 he was anxious to offer a few observations. In voting for the proposition of his noble friend, he was prepared to go into a committee, with the undisguised intention of affording to the Roman Catholics nothing less than complete relief. If, however, other noble lords felt that while they did not go to that extent, there were other measures of relief that they were disposed to concede, they must vote for the committee.—And here he must do the noble earl the justice to say that though he conscientiously opposed those concessions on former occasions, he did so with peculiar moderation and liberality. That noble earl did not impute to the Catholics opinions of any immoral nature—he did not suppose them to hold doctrines incompatible with their loyalty to the state. The belief in transubstantiation, in the invocation of saints, and in the sacrifice of the mass, was disallowed by that noble earl, as a ground of disqualification. If so, why then continue declarations against those articles of faith on the Statute book? They were not connected with the supremacy of the pope, inasmuch as they were also the doctrines of the Greek and Russian churches. Why call upon any member of either House of Parliament, before he took his seat, to subscribe to such declarations, on subjects, of which many who subscribed could have little information; at the same time, that such a course went gratuitously to insult and degrade the belief of those who considered such subjects with religious reverence? Surely they might go into a committee to redeem the Statute book from such a stain, to relieve their own consciences, and the consciences of others, from the practice of subscribing to such unnecessary and degrading declarations. Had they examined the sacrifice of the mass, and the invocation of saints so accurately, as to be enabled to swear, however erroneous they might be, that they were also superstitious and idolatrous? He was also prepared for a revision of the oath of supremacy, but in the committee it could be investigated whether the terms of the oath (and, after all, an oath, it would be recollected, was the only security the exclusion possessed for its continuance) could not be so arranged as to yield security to the Protestant, and satisfaction to the Catholics. The noble lord who spoke from the cross bench, and who had on former occasions declared himself hostile to farther concession, had that night 431 expressed himself favourable to the claims of the Catholics, although at present he was withheld from giving his support to them by the intemperate language of Dr. Milner.—When called to legislate on the condition and claims of the Catholics, he (earl Grey) must protest against the introduction of any opinions of Dr. Milner, or of having that subject discussed on grounds of reference to those opinions. If, however, the securities proposed in 1807, were proposed, as Dr. Milner was reported by the noble lord to have stated, from a malignant spirit, the proposition of those securities proceeded from Dr. Milner himself. That gentleman might have changed his opinions since, although he could not attribute such change to any good motive. But instead of the intemperate language of any man being an argument of delay, it was, in his mind, an argument for dispatch. Did any man believe, that if when that question ten years ago was first discussed, and those securities were proposed by the Irish bishops (and here he might be allowed to say that Dr. Milner was no longer their agent), concession might not have been made with the fullest security. Delay produced irritation, and that irritation, which was the natural result of disappointment, was sure to add to every postponement new and aggravated difficulties, livery thing was now favourable for the inquiry. It was a season of profound peace, in which it was the duty of parliament to repair the breaches which time or misrule had made in the fabric of the state. But without diminishing the hope of its continuance, were there not in the state of human passions, and in the relation in which we stood, as to our two great rivals, America and France, many things to forbid the expectation of its being perpetual? When we looked at America, we beheld a country rapidly advancing into all the strength and vigour of maturity—with a navy increasing in amount and character—propelled into activity by a century, in consequence of the impolitic conduct of this country—in time of peace taking up new positions, from which in war she was enabled to threaten our trade, and weaken the security of our colonial possessions; while Great Britain, notwithstanding all the sacrifices she had made for the security of the states of Europe, had neither the interest nor power to prevent it. If we looked to France, we be held a country 432 annually advancing to the realization of all those resources which were the fruits of wise institutions and an enlightened government, blessed in a variety of means from the fertility of climate, and her comparative exemption from debt,—her soil cultivated by a manly and contented peasantry—her population enterprising and impetuous, improving in all those habits which gave vigour and energy to natural resources. In such a state of things, it was impossible not to reflect on what the feelings of opposition and the spirit of revenge might in a few years produce. A calm and temperate policy would, no doubt, do much in averting any prospect of hostility, but no statesman could look to a very distant period without providing for such an issue. If he turned his view to our own condition, he saw our immense debt, our load of taxation unequal to the payment of the interest of that debt, and still impossible, though great the pressure on the industry and wants of the country, to be in any adequate degree alleviated. If he looked at the state of our circulation, he beheld that very same condition of things which when it existed in France, that country was uniformly asserted to be either bankrupt, or on the verge of bankruptcy. He had to consider that for the first time in our history, our paper currency was acknowledged by parliament to be depreciated—that in place of the ancient standard of value, we were proceeding to find a remedy in an untried speculation—hazardous because untried—and for the cessation of which we had no better security than what had been so often found inefficient in procuring our return from a paper to a metallic circulation. With all these considerations menacing our security, was Ireland to be left a continued prey to that system of proscription from whence in former exigencies so much of danger and alarm had been felt throughout the empire? Was it any thing less than madness to suffer such dangers to accumulate, and not, when the opportunity presented itself, to take the certain means to allay present discontent and provide future security. He knew that the morbid state of that country, the fatal effect of a long space of misgovernment, could not be remedied by any one measure, but could be accomplished only by a long perseverance in soothing, mild, and conciliatory, principles of policy: and he conjured their lordships as they wished 433 to retain the position their country held in the world, to commence that night the salutary work of conciliation and peace, by giving their assent to the proposition of his noble friend.
The Earl of Liverpool
observed, it was evident that the friends of the Catholics now claimed for them free admission into all offices of state and trust, in the same degree that the Protestants enjoyed those privileges. If there were any subjects of minor importance in the contemplation of any of their lordships, on which concession was to be granted, any separate and specific remedies for particular grievances, it was open for those noble lords to bring them before the House; and it might become the House to entertain the discussion. But he was persuaded that their lordships were not to be deluded. The main objects of the Catholics were to be allowed to sit in parliament, in the privy council, and to be eligible to the great offices of the state. If there existed any doubt as to that point, it was only necessary to review what passed in 1813 on this question. The moment that the motion of a noble baron, who then sat in the other House of Parliament, was carried, for introducing into the bill then before that House a clause, excluding Catholics from parliament and the privy council, the bill was altogether withdrawn, even by its supporters, from the fuller consideration of the legislature. Was he not therefore justified in maintaining that the object of the Catholics was the extensive one which he had described? He agreed with his noble and learned friend that the principle of the constitution as established in 1668, was essentially Protestant. He would not follow the noble earl in discussing the specific reasons for each separate act of legislature, but he contended that the governing principle at the Revolution was to secure and strengthen the connexions between the establishments of church and state. In determining on that principle, their lordships' ancestors had abided by the striking lessons of experience in their own history. They had twice seen the constitution subverted, by severing the interests of the state from the church. The country had at that time the experience of two great convulsions; one in which the Puritans had overturned at once the monarchy and the church; the other at a subsequent period, where the monarch had almost subverted the church, and completely subverted his 434 own throne by means of the doctrines and practice of Popery. With those examples before their eyes, our ancestors had wisely adopted the principle, that the connexion of a church and a limited monarchy was absolutely essential to the existence of civil liberty and of constitutional government; and in deciding the question that the king must be Protestant, they had also decided that the government must be Protestant likewise. Upon what principle, he would ask, could it be argued, that it was necessary to maintain the Protestant character of the Crown, and yet that it was a matter of indifference what advisers the Crown should have? The noble lord had asked at what point our concessions should stop? Certainly this would be a fair question, if the business was one merely of degree or expediency; but as he (lord Liverpool) understood it, it was a question of principle, whether the government, as by law established; could be otherwise than Protestant? Suppose the claims of the Catholics and of all dissenters were granted to the fullest extent; suppose a general establishment of equal rights; and that peers, commoners, privy-counsellors, and judges, were of any or all religions; if under such circumstances a king should happen to be conscientiously Catholic, would such a parliament or council, or ought it to show any anxiety to enforce against the sovereign those laws which absolved the people from their allegiance to a Catholic ruler? Could they or ought they in strict duty and consistency to advise the dethronement of a monarch, because he was a dissenter like many of themselves? Was it fit then that the advisers of the Crown should be Catholics? When the very acts of parliament that adopted and enforced the hereditary principle, had directed that even that principle should be broken through rather than the king should be a Catholic, how could it be said that the law contemplated or allowed Catholic advisers? It was said, indeed, that the times were changed, and that the exclusive principle, however useful formerly, was no longer requisite: but who was so profoundly versed in the signs of the times as to predict positively what would or would not happen after a long lapse of years? He would ask, whether 30 or even 20 years beforehand, any one could have been bold enough, or sagacious enough to foretell the overthrow of a long established monarchy by the Puritans? 435 whether at the restoration of Charles 2nd, any one could have foreseen the overthrow of James in consequence of his adherence to Popery? It was from observation of these two events that our ancestors had laid down those principles by which the country had enjoyed more civil liberty and happiness than any other country on the face of the globe. Still if these principles were in themselves unjust, he should be the last person to desire their preservation, but he must confess that he saw nothing unjust in them. If one party should give a qualified, another an unqualified allegiance to the sovereign, there was no injustice in preferring the second to the first. Those who offered to the state a qualified allegiance only, did not bring the same claims for civil rights, as those who offered a whole and unqualified allegiance. The Roman Catholic not only brought a qualified allegiance, but differed from other dissenters in this, that he not only questioned the king's supremacy, but acknowledged a foreign one. All who dissented from the government in church and state, placed themselves in a state of exclusion, with this distinction, that with the mass of dissenters, there was merely a negation of the supreme power of the Crown in ecclesiastical matters; with Catholics there was the acknowledgment of a supremacy above that of the monarch. It, therefore, the Catholic came and asked for equal rights, there was no unfairness in saying to him, "You do not come on equal conditions with the Protestant subjects of the realm." The Quakers, a body equally exemplary for their moral demeanour and loyal sentiments, the non-jurors of a preceding reign, a class of conscientious and pious persons, were and had been excluded because they did not give that unqualified assent to the system of church and state which the law had pronounced to be essential to our liberties. It was not true, as had been asserted, that the church of Rome exercised no. power except in matters purely ecclesistical. It was true that it did not pretend to temporal jurisdiction as such, but, at the same time, the objects under its control did in fact, concern almost all that was temporal as well as spiritual in human affairs: he alluded particularly to marriages, divorces, wills, and deeds of that nature. The principle of auricular confession, coupled with absolution, was alone a supremacy greater than any that ever 436 belonged to any class of sovereigns There could be little doubt that if the Catholic Hierarchy possessed the power they would use that power in pursuit of farther objects, namely, for the attainment of at least a participation of the property enjoyed by the clergy of the established church. To show that this participation was desired by the catholic Hierarchy he would not allude to the opinion or writings of Catholic divines which might be disclaimed as absurd or extravagant, but he would quote a gentleman who was generally deemed one of the most liberal, tolerant and moderate members of the Catholic body, he meant Sir John Throgmorton, who stated in a publication some time ago, that he looked For the day when the emoluments of the English bishoprics should be alternately held by Protestants and Catholics, according to the system acted upon in some of the German states. It was then for parliament to consider the expediency of granting power to those likely to employ it for the establishment of such a system. But it was said that the grant of such power as was at present required would serve to produce tranquillity and harmony in Ireland. In this opinion, however, he could not acquiesce. For he could not comprehend how the Catholics were to be contented with merely that quantum of power which their advocates at present demanded; and as to the argument drawn from the Catholic's possession of the elective franchise to repel the apprehension of danger from any farther extension of his political power, he thought it totally delusive. It was to be recollected that although the Catholic possessed the elective franchise, they could at present only exercise that franchise in, the election of Protestants, whereas if the claims advanced by the petitioners were acceded to, they, might vote for Catholics. If then the Catholics were invested with that power, could any one believe they would be content without going farther, and that instead of producing harmony and peace, the proposed concession would not rather serve to give birth to a perpetual contest between the Catholic population and priesthood on the one hand, and the Protestant proprietors and friends of the Protestant establishment on the other, especially with regard to the possessions of the church? He could not concede it possible to avert such a contest, if Catholics were rendered eligible to sit in parliament. 437 But, not with standing his impressions upon this subject, he might be induced to concede the claims put forward by the Catholic advocates, if he thought such concessions likely to produce any practical good, because, for the attainment of such good, he felt that something ought to be risked. What good, however, he would ask, was to be derived to the great mass of the Catholic population from admitting a few Catholic lords and commoners to sit in parliament? If the Catholic peasant were consulted upon this question, he rather apprehended," that he would state to his confessor, that he felt no interest in an object that did not promise to relieve him from the payment of any part of his tithe, or to diminish his taxation, or to render him any good whatever. Such, indeed, would be the language of the great body of the Catholic people of Ireland. The noble earl's allusion to the system in other countries, and particularly to those where the Greek church prevailed, was not at all applicable as he (lord L.) conceived, to the case of this country, because in each of those countries the power of the Pope was controlled by the local sovereign, who, having the church possessions at his disposal, could guard against the danger of a foreign jurisdiction, No such guard could, in his view, be provided by his country through the establishment of a veto, in objecting to which he always thought the Catholics right, while he felt that the enactment of such a measure would afford no security whatever to the Protestants. The noble earl had alleged that no danger was to be apprehended in this country from the power of the Pope; but in this opinion he could not concur, from what was known of that prince's influence with the whole of the Catholic community, and it must be recollected that the extent of that influence was not distinctly ascertained. In seeking for civil privileges, it should be remembered that the Catholics applied for them upon terms which would not be acceded to in any free state; for they sought equal privileges with other classes of the people, but upon unequal conditions, as they were willing to submit only to qualified obligations of allegiance, while the obligations of others were without any qualification. Yet with all those objections to the claims of the Catholics, he would, he repeated, be ready to abandon the considerations which theory and abstract reasoning suggested, if a conces- 438 sion to those claims held out any prospect of practical good. That prospect, however, did not offer in his view; for instead of allaying animosity, he feared that the concession proposed would rather serve to extend it, while the Catholic people were not likely to derive any benefit or feel any satisfaction from the eligibility of a few individuals (respectable, no doubt), to sit in that or the other House of parliament. With respect to the allegation that the Catholics would be satisfied with the concessions now proposed, without seeking any farther objects—such, for instance, as the possession or participation of the property of the established church—he could not, he must say, be induced to subscribe to such an allegation, his opinion of human nature being very different from that professed by those from whom this allegation proceeded. Under all those circumstances, then, he could not consent to risk the security of the Protestant Constitution established at the Revolution, recollecting the blessings which the country had enjoyed under that constitution, especially through the maintenance of the Protestant religion with a Protestant monarchy and a Protestant parliament.
The Marquis of Lansdowne
said, that if the maintenance of the disabilities complained of by the Catholics, were necessary to the maintenance of the British constitution and of the Protestant establishment, which formed such an essential part of that constitution, he would be among the first to oppose their removal. But his impression upon this subject was quite different from that of the noble earl who spoke last. That noble earl's impression, appeared to be grounded upon what the character of the Catholics was in other times. But this he submitted was a most erroneous rule of judgment, not only with regard to the Catholics, but to various other sects. For who could in candour appreciate different sects of Dissenters at present, from what had been the conduct of those sects in former times? Who could, for instance, suppose the Anabaptists the same description of persons in the present day as they were, when through their extravagance they created such disturbances in Germany? Or who would estimate the present bishops of the established church, from the conduct of those Protestant prelates who in 1641 agreed to such odious canons, and especially to that which proclaimed the divine right of kings? Suck a rule of 439 judgment would never be insisted, upon by any just man, with reference to any existing sect, time and improved knowledge having produced a material change in each and all. Therefore the noble secretary's conclusion was not to be sustained. The noble earl was equally erroneous in attributing the conduct of the House of Stuart to the influence of the Catholic religion; that conduct being notoriously the result of a desire on the part of that infatuated family to establish arbitrary power. What, for instance, had the Catholic religion to do with the conduct, of this family in Scotland? The noble secretary had deprecated as peculiarly dangerous the admissibility of Catholics to sit in the councils of the sovereign, at the will of the sovereign himself, for that was all the advocates for the Catholics proposed. He also professed to think it dangerous that Catholic noblemen or gentlemen should be rendered eligible to sit in a Protestant parliament, or to accept certain offices under a Protestant government. Whence the noble secretary's apprehension arose he could not divine. With respect to the dangers apprehended from the supremacy of the Pope, there was no instance to be found of those dangers being produced by that article of Catholic faith in any of the countries of Europe in which it was so much more likely to be dangerous in this. As to the argument against the motion, derived from the coronation oath and the principles of the Revolution, he maintained that it was directly against those principles to allow that the Crown was prevented from admitting to its service any body of its subjects whom it might think worthy of trust. The noble secretary was adverse to the admission of Catholics into the constitution, because truly they sought that admission upon qualified conditions! It was to be recollected, that all the Dissenters were so admitted upon qualified conditions. But if the noble secretary's principle were established all those Dissenters who would not take the oath of supremacy must be excluded from the constitution, and all Scotland would be subject to that exclusion. Such a system of exclusion would not be attempted even by the noble secretary, and upon what ground of equity then should the Catholic be excluded, because he could not conscientiously take certain oaths? The Catholics were ready to take any oath that might be deemed necessary to assure the peformance of 440 their civil duties as loyal subjects. They had, indeed, already subscribed the oaths required of them:—some of those oaths having been drawn up by their decided opponents, while others were framed by themselves; so that the Catholics had done all in their power to satisfy the object, and to afford the assurances which, the noble and learned lord on the woolsack appeared to demand; and he was authorised to state, that they were ready to subscribe to any other oaths that might be deemed necessary as a guarantee for their civil allegiance.
The Earl of Westmorland
said, that he should not presume, after the subject had been so fully debated, to enter at large into this, extensive question, but to call their lordships attention to the state in which it now came before them and to make some observations on what had passed in the debate. Having, whilst he had the honour of serving his majesty in Ireland, recommended the situation of his majesty's Catholic subjects to the favourable consideration of the parliament—having through the able and temperate conduct of a noble friend whose loss we all lament twice been enabled to give his majesty's assent to liberal concession to that body—he trusted it was unnecessary for him to disclaim any notions of bigotry or intolerance, or to express his earnest wishes to conciliate the affections of that class of his majesty's subjects, as far as was consistent with the state and temper of the times, the peace and tranquillity of the country, and the maintenance of the establishments of the realm. The proposition made by the noble earl was under certain words, to go into a general committee for the purpose of forming an arrangement that would conciliate all classes of the king's subjects, and unite them in support of the British constitution—an object so desirable that there was no one in the House but must anxiously concur in it; but it was because he was persuaded that the noble lord's proposition if acceded to, would instead of union and concord, produce dissatisfaction, discontent, and disorder, that be should give it his decided opposition. For a due consideration of the subject, let us review the state in which we own are. Some few years ago, the friends of the Roman Catholic claims thought it right, that, in return for the removal of all disabilities from the Roman Catholics, certain concessions should be made on their side, such as some 441 interference of the Crown in the appointment of the Roman Catholic superior clergy, and some restrictions on the communications with the see of Rome, called the Veto, and the regium exequatur. Whether these propositions were proper or not, he meant not to examine, but these views were brought forward by considerable persons, and these opinions had the sanction of great names—they had the sanction of the noble lords opposite, the chancellor of Oxford, and though he was aware they had changed their opinions, yet some consideration was due to others, who happened not to be able to change their opinions as fast as they have done; however, these persons, wise when in concurrence with noble lords, and now unwise, or if it is more approved by the noble lord, always unwise, brought forward a bill upon these principles, what was the result? A small party of the upper class approved it; the rest of the body and more particularly the clergy, remonstrated against it: its supporters were designated worse than orange men: it was denounced from the pulpit—the bill of relief was denominated, a bill of pains and penalties, worse than the penal statutes,—a bill that could be enforced only through torrents of blood, and that would shake the British empire to its foundations. Was it not from this undoubted fact, that no plan was yet known that would conciliate the two sects, and give content, was it not useless to go into a committee; did it not become every one to bring forward some distinct proposition upon which men might decide, and not by dealing in generals, produce either unfounded expectations or general alarm? what must be the opinions of people of the motives of this committee? Some would think it was to grant every thing to the Catholics, others, that it was intended to renew the late bill of relief. If the noble lord's project was to alarm only one class it might be of less importance; but by this committee you would alarm both Protestant and Catholic equally. It had been stated by the noble lords opposite, that the time was favourable for the temperate discussion of this question, but he was very sorry to differ from them, as he much wished that the subject should be temperately and favourably discussed and was obliged to say that, in his opinion the time was very unfavourable, and that from causes some of which, the Roman Catholics were responsible for, others for which they were not responsible, a very un- 442 favourable impression had gone forth in the public, even much more unfavourable than, some years ago. The first point he should notice that had this effect, and for which the Roman Catholics were responsible, was, the reception and conduct on the bill of relief proposed by their friends. This measure in return for abdition of all distinction, required less interference and laid less restrictions than any state in Europe, Catholic or Protestant had laid upon the Catholics, and communications with the Roman see,—a measure which at various times had the concurrence of many of that body. The next was the conduct and declarations of Roman Catholics in other parts of the world, and the doctrines that have been promulgated by their clergy. In a letter from Pius 8th dated May 1808 to all the cardinals, giving an account of his transactions with Buonaparté he says,—"He proposed the liberty of every worship with free exercise thereof. We have rejected this article as contrary to the councils, to the canons, to the Catholic religion, to the tranquillity of life, to the happiness of the state, from the consequences that would be derived from it." No one can deny that the head of the church must know the principles of his church, and it must have an influence on the public mind, that all regulation should be refused by a sect whose head propounded such principles. Next was the declaration of the Archbishop of Mechlin and most of his suffragans, "that Catholics could not take the oaths to a Protestant sovereign. The re-establishment of the order of Jesuits. The suppression of all societies for the publication of the Bible. The persecution of the Protestants in the south of France and the murder of sixteen Protestants at Nismes: and the indiscreet publications from the Catholic press, particularly those of Dr. Drumgoole, and Dr. Gandolphy. It was perhaps harsh to make bodies responsible for the indiscreet writings of individuals but such was the nature of man, that such writings would have that effect, more certainly when the indiscreet writings of the latter were described by the superior authority at Rome as worthy of being placed in letters of cedar and of gold. These circumstances (whether properly or not he should not discuss) had given a very unfavourable turn to the public opinion in this country, and he trusted he should presently show that the noble lords opposite were fully impressed with that opi- 443 nion. First, the opinions of the Protestants, of Ireland and some petitions from some of that body had been advanced as proving a change in the opinion of that class of his majesty's subjects; but when he considered the great property power and influence in that country which belonged to the noble lords opposite (certainly they would only use the influence of their high opinion) the only surprise was, that more petitions had not been obtained, and that such power and influence could only extract eight or ten petitions from that country proved to him that the opinions of the Protestants of that country were not changed and that they looked at this question with alarm. Next, the opinion of the people of England; they had indeed spoken their sense in petitions, against the measure, but upon these petitions he could not help making an observation;—when the clergy petitioned their petitions were censured by the noble lords; if they were silent, their silence was construed in favour of the claims, but he must insist that every British subject had a right to be heard; and in no case could the clergy come forward with greater propriety than when they considered the religious establishment endangered. However, petitions there were enough to mark the public opinion, and to prove that opinion he should appeal to higher authority than that of the favourers of the Catholic claims. Until the last year this subject was brought forward every year since 1805 with the greatest urgency except one (1806) when "a wise and powerful government" thought proper to keep it back; but why was it kept back on the very eve of a popular election? What an excellent opportunity such a subject must have afforded to a certain class of statesmen, to declaim upon toleration; and then with their Whig principles on one side, and their support of the Catholics on the other they might have met the people with wonderful advantage, and driven; their intolerant antagonists before them the noble lords and their assistants in another place, however were as silent as mice, and, popular as the question was supposed to be, now did it happen by some fatality that notwithstanding the boast of the late glorious minority on the Roman Catholic question no means were devised for letting the public know who formed that glorious minority. One great argument for this question of abolition of all distinctions, was that it would put an end to all dis- 444 sensions. If he could think that it would really have this effect, he would go a great way to agree to it. He could state many and most serious questions that would still remain to be adjusted, but he was saved giving the House that trouble by the admission of several of the noble lords opposite, that these concessions would not effect a final settlement of all dissensions. Those noble lords said, however, that if the concessions were granted, all other matters which occasioned dissension would be easily settled, why, then, in this case he must say that he would rather see these matters settled first. If, then, the proposition is improper and the time unfavourable let us look to a few of the arguments that have been used. A reverend prelate and the noble lord talk of this measure having been the cause of the union—that the union had been carried by a promise to, and an expectation of the Catholics. Various no doubt were the expectations and views of different descriptions of men on that measure. What great power the Catholics who had no seats in parliament had in carrying the union, he should rather be at a loss to discover, but he was really of opinion that the fear of the Roman Catholic claims being carried in Ireland had a very powerful influence with many in supporting the great measure of union. He knew one particularly, who was more interested than any one, except Mr. Pitt himself, who was actuated by that opinion. He was apprehensive lest the Irish parliament might yield this measure which he considered would have been a fatal blow to the English interest in that country but that when once the union was accomplished and the discussion of those claims was in England, all was safe, for that no parliamentary party, no minister could force the people of England, upon this question and perhaps the noble lord opposite had had some hints to show that he did not judge very falsely in that opinion. Next, anomalies were stated which no doubt existed, but whatever they might be, he should say they were to be attributed to those who pretended to be favourers of the Catholics! What was the case when the relief bill was brought in? Was not every person desirous to make an arrangement as favourable as possible, independent of removal of all disabilities, and was not the measure withdrawn by its supporters upon the rejection of the clause giving the Roman Catholics seats 445 in parliament? Fairly then it may be asked, who are the best friends to the Catholics, those who were willing and have granted them every thing that the state and temper of the country and their sense of their duty will allow, or those who reject every thing and keep up the grievances in mass, attempting what they know they cannot obtain against the sense of the country. The power of parliament and of offices should be reserved; because whilst that power remained whatever other arrangements or concessions might be to be made, you had the power of control and management, but these acceded to the power was gone and events must take their course temperate or otherwise wherever the storm or current might drive. He denied that concession would of necessity produce conciliation for were not the great concessions formerly granted to the Catholics followed by a violent and sanguinary rebellion? He alluded next to what had fallen from a learned prelate, that England had the reproach of not extending the rights of toleration so far as the other nations of Europe, this he believed not to be founded on fact, but, admitting that every country in Europe, Africa, Asia, and America had acted in such a manner as the noble prelate described, still, until those countries resembled England and Ireland the analogy would not hold. Did those countries contain two hierarchies each assuming religious power? Did they contain in every parish, priest against priest, one in possession of wealth and the other of poverty? Did they contain one million of one religion, enjoying the principal wealth of the country, and the church establishment, the remainder looking at these possessions with regret and anxiety. So much for Ireland. What was the case of England? Had other nations a free parliament, a free press, constant contest of parties, the one making every exertion and every sacrifice to obtain political power, the other to retain it? Could any one say what points a connected body in parliament of a much smaller number than was contemplated the Catholics might be in parliament choosing their time and opportunity, and throwing the balance between the parties, might not attain? Unless such a state of affairs were shown to exist in other countries, no analogy could be established. What were the opinions of Mr. Pitt on the subject? He was a very strong and deter- 446 mined friend of the Roman Catholics, and no man was more zealously anxious for carrying this measure than that great statesman; but he, poor man! not being gifted with the powers of prophecy, required not only some securities for the defence and protection of the Protestant church, bat he required also, that these concessions should be granted not with the universal, that was nearly impossible, but with the general feelings and concurrence of the people, without which they would be not a source of union and concord, but of civil and religious distraction and discontent. Thinking, therefore, the proposition of the committee pregnant with great mischief, and the times unfavourable for a temperate discussion of these questions, he should give his negative to it.
The Earl of Carnarvon
protested against the principle that the House should decide on the question of Catholic emancipation, before they determined whether they should go into a committee. He thought the objection to a committee came with a singularly ill grace from his majesty's ministers, who had, during the present session, delegated every branch of the executive power to committees of parliament. The objection to admitting Roman Catholics into places of civil trust and power, was equally untenable after the army and navy had been opened to their ambition. The military profession had been made free to the Roman Catholics, and yet apprehensions of their fidelity were affected to be felt when the question arose respecting their admissibility to civil offices. As to the king's supremacy, he did not understand in what sense the recognition of it was demanded from the Catholics. They were willing to acknowledge the Protestant church as the established religion of the empire, and the king as the head of the Protestant church. What more could be required? Was the king to be not only the head of the established church, but of all sectaries? The argument was absurd.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he considered that the whole of this question turned on the expediency of removing the disabilities from the Irish Roman Catholics, and upon what concessions could be safely made to them. As a means of inquiry, a committee was proposed. The whole question turned upon the degree of security which could be given to the Protestant religion as by law established in Ireland. To consider this, it was 447 necessary to consider how the Reformation had been established in Ireland. It was not necessary for him to recall to their lordships' remembrance, that the unreformed religion had been established in Ireland at the point of the sword, and by means of confiscations. All this was repeated at the Revolution, and was fresh in the recollection of the people of Ireland. Keeping in view that the Irish Roman Catholic, church, under all oppressions continued in the same state—the pope having the same influence over the clergy—the clergy, the same power over the people in this state of things, he would ask, whether it was possible that Roman Catholics could be safely admitted to hold seats in parliament? The influence of the priesthood over the people was fostered by the, remembrance of the events to which he had alluded; and the idea of unmerited and mutual suffering; and no doubt Could be entertained, from their present feelings, that if the Roman Catholics were admitted to the enjoyment of political powder, their first exertion would be to restore their religion to its original supremacy; and to recover the possessions and property of which they had been stripped by the Reformation. It was, however, said, that securities were offered on the part of the Roman Catholics. The pope, it seemed, had, in the appointment of bishops, relinquished all to the Crown, except the mere conferring of a spiritual blessing. But how had that concession been received by the people of Ireland? It had excited the utmost discontent, and was regarded as an abandonment of the essential principles of their religion, and an attack on their national independence. Did that arise from the people of Ireland having a less clear idea of national independence than other peopled No; but they felt that if the executive power possessed any control over the appointment of the Roman Catholic bishops, some security would be thereby obtained for the Protestant church. Considering, then, that the whole question, turned upon the degree of security which could be given, and looking at the various securities which had at several times been proposed, he had never yet seen any thing that came up to his notion of that which ought to be required. As to what had been Said of the domestic nomination of bishops he did not see how the laws of the country could operate upon it, so as to make it an adequate security. Then as to the oath of 448 allegiance which the bishop was to take, of what avail could it be, that the law required this oath from a bishop, who was appointed God knows how, or by whom? When all those circumstances were considered—the state of the Irish Catholic church—the way in which the Reformation had been effected—the rivalry and enmity between the Catholics and the established church, and the inadequacy of all securities which had been proposed, there was, in his opinion, enough to decide the question: for the first and greatest duty of the legislature was, to secure the establishments as settled at the Revolution.
The Earl of Darnley
thought that his noble and gallant friend had treated the subject as if it were of an ecclesiastical rather than of a civil nature. It would certainly be highly desirable to satisfy the minds of the Protestants with securities, while the Roman Catholics were admitted to a full participation in the advantages of the constitution; but the means of effecting that could be ascertained only by going into a committee. He could not see how the safety of a single Protestant could be endangered by extending the civil rights of the Catholics; he, therefore, at that late hour of the night, would not detain their lordships any longer, than by stating, that, with or without securities, he was willing to grant to the Catholics what sooner or later they must inevitably obtain.
§ The question being, loudly called for, the House divided:
|Majority against the Motion 41.|
|List of the Majority and Minority.|
|Northampton||Dudley and Ward|
|Present 97—Proxies 50–147.|
|Oxford||Say and Sele|
|St. Germain's||Bishop of Norwich|
|Bishop of Rochester.|
§ Contents—Present 70—Proxies 36–106.